Watching as Ghost hoisted himself up the bouldering wall Bloom was more than pleased to see he was far better at the sport than he seemed to have believed he would be. She could tell that he had the sense to know when he was straining his arms or legs too much and how to shift that weight without compromising himself on the wall. It was something that people either knew naturally or didn’t, there was never an in-between, and it seemed Ghost was the former, a lucky group to be in when first entering the sport. For those who it didn’t come naturally to it was all too easy to strain a limb or end up drained while in a less than ideal position on the wall. Bloom had seen plenty of first-time climbers drop to the mat due to cramps in their legs from holding a position for far too long without giving the muscle time to relax by doing something so simple as shifting their weight. “Nice hold!” Bloom called out to Ghost as she watched him scale a slight outward curved section of the wall, his hands gripping the hold and leaving a slight white print from the chalk as he moved away to the next colorful gripping point.
As her minty gaze remained focused on the young man's movements Bloom couldn’t help but think about how different her interactions with Ghost were now compared to when they first met. She could still remember how he had changed so spontaneously when she had offered him a coffee during their first meeting. Before that the young man had been polite, understandably curious, and informative about her new role as an instructor. The appearance of the coffee had changed things and Bloom now understood that Ghost must have seen it as some sort of ploy on her end rather than the kind gesture she had meant it to be. Now the two of them weren’t exactly best friends but they had begun to understand each other better and there was certainly room for a friendship to grow. In all honesty, as Bloom watched Ghost scramble up the bouldering wall she knew good and well that she did want a friendship with him. Partially because they both cared deeply for Charlie but also because she had come to genuinely enjoy Ghost’s company. He was witty and spontaneous, a fun combination from her experience and one that often led to entertaining stories being born. She appreciated that Ghost was also layered, much like herself, it wasn’t what you see is what you get with him. He was complex and certainly enjoyed his privacy, something she could also understand and even relate to. He might clash with Phillip but hopefully, that wouldn’t completely ruin any and all chances of friendship between the two of them.
“I didn’t know you were part squirrel.” She called up to her former co-worker playfully as he neared the top of the wall and pulled himself up onto the platform. She was about to add in some genuine praise when out of the corner of her eye she spotted Cas walking towards her. “Taking a break?” Bloom inquired with a warm smile towards the young woman. Cas’s eyes were angled towards the top of the bouldering wall where Ghost had paused to catch his breath. “Not sure how much of it you saw but he did really well for his first climb. He knew to keep three points of contact at all times and he wasn’t horrible about adjusting his position to keep from straining his muscles too much.” Her voice was laced with hints of pride, not in herself but in Ghost who appeared to be doing incredibly well for a first-time climber. She was well aware that this might be his first time climbing in an actual climbing gym but she didn’t know if he had done climbing at other points in his life. She had done a good about back in Amity but she kept that to herself like she did most of her past, she could respect if Ghost and even Cas wanted to do the same. Bloom just wanted to be happy for the success she had witnessed Ghost achieve, no matter how it came about. “How was your climb?” She asked Cas and listened carefully to her response as she kept an eye on Ghost who was now positioning himself to jump down from the bouldering wall. When his feet hit the mat Bloom’s smile lit up once more. “And he sticks the landing.” A burst of soft laughter accompanied her words as Ghost approached Cas and her, a layer of sweat glistening on his skin. Listening to the two of them interact Bloom couldn’t ignore how they seemed to feed off of each other in a competitive manner so when Ghost suggested a climbing competition she wasn’t overly surprised. “That all depends on which wall you are planning to compete on.” She replied semi-playfully but with a note of seriousness as she didn’t want Ghost hurting himself by taking on a challenge he wasn’t ready for. She knew it would upset Charlie if he got hurt plus Bloom genuinely didn’t want to see the young man she hoped to befriend in pain.
Cassidy "Cas" Wickham || 16 || Initiate || Erudite Transfer
Cassidy watched Ghost with a bit of surprise. She hadn't expected someone like him to naturally be good at this, but as she watched him she could see how he was more skilled than he let on. He had the know-how to keep enough contact - Bloom noticed the same thing - and he was fast but not stupid with how he went up the wall. He used his body strategically with what strength he had making sure not to use either his legs or arms too much if they weren't strong enough, but keeping his body exactly where it needed to be. As she watched, quite impressed and enjoying the view, she heard Bloom speak to her, but didn't look at her, rather she began to reply even while she watched Ghost reach the top. "My climb was good, I started on a medium wall as I haven't done this since transferring. Would be fun to do a hard one later. It's nice to feel the muscle definition I have built since getting here." She said very simply. They both watched as Ghost seemed to finish and made his way over, obviously proud of himself and enjoying the fact he'd had more than just Bloom watching him. Cassidy allowed a half smile, but otherwise she mostly stayed with a sly smirk on her features as she listened to him. A small but excited chuckle left her throat as Ghost challenged her to a race, and her eyes twinkled with joy. "I'm always up for such a challenge." She basically purred with delight, pulling her arms above and behind her head to stretch them. Her eyes stayed glued on Ghost. Had he found the feather she had pickpocketed onto him? It was more than likely he had found it while getting dressed, yet he had not mentioned it or shown any indication that he had found it. She knew he was sly, she wondered if he would bring it up if he did find it. Some part of her seemed to think he would, and the other part of her was sure that he wouldn't. As Ghost took a small breather from his climb, Cas looked at Bloom. "What wall would you suggest?" She asked, knowing that if she were to pick she'd pick one that would be likely too hard for Ghost, and wanted it to be a more fair competition. Given Ghost's natural agility she had a suspicion he had either rock climbed before or he had done something similar. Maybe scaling houses or cliffs. She knew that was where she had originally picked up the skills, when she lived in the factionless area as a child, she was the one who often scaled up buildings and snuck in through the windows. Griffon was too large and noisy, and didn't have the same nimbleness as she did. Also with Griffon's inability to feel pain, he might miss things that Cassidy would be unable to miss due to the opposite condition that she had. For a moment, as Bloom scanned the walls, she was taken back in her mind to those days. Griffon would hoist her up high, she would jump and reach onto anything, a window sill, a broken brick, a pipe, a fire escape. She recalled how she would have to trust Griffon would catch her if she fell, but also she remembered that she had never fallen. She would scale the pipe up the house, or leap from window to window, or clamber silently up a metal fire escape. Her body was beautifully designed for things like that, and Griffon was designed exactly for what he did, which was hoisting her up and catching her when she jumped (or if she had fallen).
Finally Bloom picked a wall and Cassidy nodded approvingly. It was a wall that was not too hard and still did not need belaying. It wasn't as easy as the bouldering, but it was still far easier than the walls that Cassidy was used to doing. Stretching her arms and legs, Cassidy watched as Ghost seemed to examine the terrain, he looked it over and she watched his eyes as he began to track a climbable course. So he knew how to do that too? He had some skills in this, and she was dying to know why and how. She knew very little about Ghost, and he was beginning to make her regret that, she wished she knew more, where did he come from? Why did he come to Dauntless (she knew he wasn't Dauntless born)? Where did he learn his skills or were they all learned in initiation? She looked at the wall, making sure to track a course that would not use the same route as Ghost so that they wouldn't collide or get stuck behind or in front of the other. The track she was coursing was not the one that seemed most obvious, she presumed that Ghost had tracked the most obvious one, and so she tracked the less obvious one. If she sped ahead of him she could use his, but otherwise it was smarter to use a separate track. This particular wall was one in which you clipped your harness to a cord that would save you if you fell. It would lower you down slowly rather than letting you free fall. Thus, she looked at Ghost after they had both clipped in and nodded to him. "Well, Bloom will you count us down?" She asked, as she dipped her hand into the pouch she had and applied the chalk. As Bloom counted them down, Cassidy stood quite loosely, only tightening her muscles as Bloom got to the end of her numbering. As she leapt to go, whether intentionally or unintentionally, Cassidy watched as Ghost's foot came out to trip her. With a small laugh she pulled the very foot that would have been tripped higher, and easily missed it, although it did cause her some recalibration of how far she was jumping. Clambering onto the wall she began to the ascent, and at the beginning it was clear who had more experience, as Cassidy sped ahead for the beginning, but soon enough Ghost was right there next to her and Cassidy was grinning as she heard the heavy breathing that he was doing as they both climbed. "You have more experience than you let on." Cassidy said as he got near enough that she didn't have to yell to talk to him. They weren't far from Bloom, so she wouldn't be surprised if she heard her too, not that she was yelling. Cassidy slowed down a little to talk, having not as much competitive necessity as Ghost, and rather was just enjoying the competition rather than the desire to win, and enjoyed conversing with him. She made sure to remain in front of him when and if it was her ability to do so, but otherwise she was not completely obsessed with winning.
It wasn't a terribly long climb, but the last part at the top was hard, and both Cassidy and Ghost were fairly close. Cassidy knew that she had slowed down so she felt that if she had tried her hardest she would have been far ahead of him, but she wasn't entirely sure he was going at his best either. She hoped so. At the end she used a burst of speed and agility, having worked with walls similar to this and knowing the types of grips that it had, to make a trust jump towards a hand grip that was further above than she could physically reach, but she was fairly sure she would be able to get it if she jumped. To her delight she did make it, but to her dismay her feet both slipped out and she hung in the air for a couple seconds as she desperately tried to get a strong enough grip to stay on. Her hand immediately roared with pain, as her whole body weight was now being held by just her fingers on this hold. Shit. She thought to herself as she tensed her shoulders and swung her feet over to a better grip, finally getting it and being able to release some of the tension in her arms. She let her breath out with a small quiver and looked over at Ghost who was not far behind. Whether he was impressed or not did not really bother Cassidy, but she did take the moment where had a small advantage to grin at him. "I'd love to hear about it, whatever it was that gave you this ability to climb." She said with a smile and an eyebrow twitch, reaching up to touch the top of the wall before leaning back and letting the cord take her body weight and she calmly let it bring her body back to the mat, using her legs to bounce herself down the wall so that she didn't hit it with any other body part. Once at the bottom she watched as Ghost got to the top in his own timing and then also came down. "Use your feet to bounce off the wall so that you don't hit it with your body." She said as he began to come down, not wanting him to end up walloping the wall. Once he was at the bottom and they had both unclipped, she held out a hand for him to shake. "Well that was a good climb, we should do that more often." She said, with an eyebrow raise to try get his indica6tion on whether he would want to do that again or not. Once they had shaken hands she turned to Bloom. "I would also love to verse you in a race one day as well." She said, having not seen yet whether or not Bloom really was very good at this. She assumed she must be. She rolled her shoulders as she looked at the two instructors, or rather, one instructor and one ex-instructor.
Griffon || 18 17 || Initiate || Abnegation Transfer
As Griffon watched the movie he was shocked at how real he felt it was. The movie was loud so he didn't even need to worry about his hearing aids and his eyes felt like they hardly blinked as he watched in surprise at the entire thing. He had never seen anything like this before, the only thing that came close was when there were those projection like videos of the leaders of different factions during things like the choosing ceremony. Plus... simulations were very similar except you were in them, rather than watching them. This was something entirely different and he was entirely captured by the story and the videos themselves. The music too, was nothing like he'd ever heard. He'd only ever listened to classical music, and sometimes some jazz or stuff that Cassidy had tried showing him, but he was used to a very quiet, monotonous lifestyle, and this was anything except that. There were action sequences that had his head reeling, and he found himself squeezing Aya's hand so tightly during them that he worried afterwards that he was hurting, there would be moments when he'd lean back in his chair and hiss in his breath and mumble unintelligible words like he was terrified. When someone died he felt himself crying, and it was only then that Ava had to tell him that it was just special effects and that the person was acting and hadn't actually died. That was news to him, and he realized that the scenes he was most terrified made a lot more sense now, and he was more relieved at this. However it was hard for him to keep remembering this, as he kept thinking things were genuinely happening to people, and as time went on he would remember what Ava had said, and then forget, and then remember. He felt slightly awkward, like he was watching the inner workings of someone else's life, but once he could wrap his head around the fact it wasn't real (sometimes struggling to remember that) he found himself thoroughly enjoying the experience. It was so different to anything he had in Abnegation, but he found he enjoyed it.
As they exited the cinema Aya asked him about how his experience had been watching the movie. "It was so strange! It was loud and exciting and I'd never seen so many things happen at once! It took so long to wrap my head around the concept... I... have to admit I found some of the parts a little awkward to watch because it felt like watching somebody else's life... But it was so exciting! I'd love to go see... I don't remember what it was called... but the trailer for the movie that wasn't real people... What is it called?" He asked, and looked to Aya as she let him know that he was referring to the movie that was cartoons. "Yes! Animation... That one feels like it would be easier to watch for me. But I did enjoy it, thank you for bringing me here with you. Did you enjoy it?" He asked, a little flustered from having talked too much. As Aya replied, he used the time to adjust his hearing aids so that he could hear properly without it being too loud or too quiet, as he'd turned it down during the movie due to the sound being a bit overwhelming for him. As they turned to leave after Aya's reply, Griffon felt as he was suddenly pulled down towards her, her cheek pressing against his and suddenly her phone was out and he was met with a mirror of their faces. He found himself flushing and smiling like a schoolboy who had just bumped into the girl he liked, and watched as Aya snapped the picture, his eyes transfixed on the screen. He liked how it looked, the two of them side by side and smiling. As she let go of him and he straightened up, using his hands to straighten his vest, she grabbed his hand again, and he looked down at hers. It was so clean and perfect, smooth and precise. It was much smaller than his but also he could feel that it was strong. His hands were not rough, in fact he also had very smooth hands, they were not used to hard environments anymore, and only had scarring from either very recently or from long ago back before he was in Abnegation. He felt he liked holding hands with people. He had always liked it. Even before... A sudden shiver of realization occured to him as he stared at her hand as she looked at the picture she'd just taken to make sure it looked okay. Her hand was in his hand. But he could... he could remember. He remembered holding Cassidy's hand. He closed his eyes for a second, imagining her hand in his and... He opened his eyes, excitement within. He could remember that! He remembered Cassidy's little hand in his own.
Soon enough Aya was done with looking at her phone and pulled Griffon along with her. He wondered whether she knew she was holding his hand so much. He enjoyed it and wasn't going to ask her to stop because he found it helpful and also just liked the feeling, but it did strike him as a little different and a little interesting. He had always found it extremely helpful to be holding hands with people when being lead somewhere or when he was in an unfamiliar location. Given his incredible struggle with remembering things, he often lost his way and needed help in getting back to a safe area or just a reocgnized, familiar area. So having someone lead him around was always useful. Some other men might find it degrading to be lead around, but to Griffon? It was just practical. He didn't feel useless. He knew that he had the know-how and the ability to fight if he needed to, he knew he had the strength to defend people and to be useful in those places. But when it came to matters of the brain, to analytics, intelligence and all of that? Well in those cases he just struggled to be at the top, and he didn't mind. That's why he and Cassidy had made such a great team, and why he and Aya now made a good team. Fable was also good with him, but in his honest opinion she held everything within herself anyway, she was possibly not as witty and fast as Cassidy, and maybe she wasn't naturally as strong and built as Griffon, but she was certainly faster and wittier than Griffon, and stronger in physique than Cassidy. She was the full package. Griffon had no doubt that she would go very far in her success in Dauntless. Aya lead Griffon to a burger joint, it was one he thought he remembered, but he wasn't entirely sure. He enjoyed all the bright colours and sat down where Aya showed him was a nice spot. He read through the menu for a bit, but couldn't decide what he liked, and looked over at Aya. "What do you think I should get? I think I tried a burger when I first came to Dauntless but I don't remember what it was... I think it had chicken in it..." He trailed off as he looked at all the things.
Ghost // Male // Age 18 // Officially Unemployed // Erudite to Dauntless
“Did you expect anything less?” Ghost cooed in response to Bloom’s flattery. As he sauntered over to join her and Cassidy, the air conditioning was especially cool against his sweat-slick torso, his shirt plastered to him like a second skin. And he could tell by the tension already coiling in his chest and shoulders that he’d be sore tomorrow morning. But of course he’d stuck the landing. “If so, you doubt my competence.” He brushed a hand through his hair as if preening his feathers. At his proposal for a competition between Cassidy and him, a startled guffaw left his prospective opponent’s throat, as if she couldn’t believe a newbie’s gall to challenge her. As if the idea were beneath her but endlessly amusing for that same reason. Proud little thing, ain’t ya? Ghost thought but didn’t say. Instead, his lips quirked into a delinquent smile. “All in good fun,” he said politely, so as to not insult her skill. He’d rather do that on the rock wall than with cheap talk.
Meanwhile, Bloom watched the exchange with a raised brow and a pensive hand resting on her chin, as if her interest was piqued but she wasn’t overly surprised. As their supervisor, Ghost half-expected her to shoot down his challenge for safety’s sake—regrettably, she seemed to be a responsible type most of the time—and was pleased when she only stipulated that it couldn’t be too difficult a wall. Which made sense to Ghost, because if the wall were really that difficult, he probably wouldn’t be able to climb much of it. He nodded to Bloom’s terms. “Dealer’s choice then,” he said, trusting that she would err on the side of a wall that was too easy than one that posed a legitimate challenge.
A damp strand of hair fell in front of Cassidy’s face as she stretched her triceps. As Ghost shifted his eyes to her, he found that she was already looking at him. He was slightly taken aback by the intensity in her stare, their gazes burning into each other like a lit fuse connected them. Or like she was sizing up the opposition. When Bloom looked away to scan the gym for a suitable wall, he winked playfully at Cassidy, just to see how she would react. She returned the gesture. In response Ghost feigned an overdramatic expression of surprise, like a bad actor in a cheap play. When Bloom swung around to look at them again, her mind made, he swiftly molded his expression into idle neutrality. As she led them over to her selection, Cassidy and Ghost trailing several steps behind her, he said in an undertone, “You’d better stop winking at me, girl. You’d give another man the wrong idea.” When Cassidy countered that he’d started it, Ghost shook his head in denial. “Dunno what you’re talking about. You’re delusional and shameless.” Bloom swung around just as he was finishing that sentence, and he stretched his lips into a cherubic grin. When she inquired what they were talking about, Ghost replied without breaking stride, “Just wishing my opponent good luck but not better than mine, of course.”
The wall that Bloom selected was easily three times as tall as the stout little bouldering courses that Ghost had been doing before, but other than being long, it was a fairly straightforward climb. Fewer handholds were present, but the course wasn’t sparse, with spacious gaps of void, like some others. Ghost studied it with his hands clasped neutrally in front of him and found himself mirroring Cassidy’s appraising nod, as if he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. Then he immediately felt frivolous for acting the part of the pro climber and smothered the smile that tried to crawl onto his face. He put his mind to the more productive task of figuring out how he was going to scale this wall, tracing a web of possible paths that led to the uppermost platform, some of them eventually merging with one another and others splitting off from a common root. Right up the middle there were more handhelds, but the wall jutted out at a forty-five-degree angle. Whereas off to either side the paths were more straightforward, but more reaching would be required. Which would be faster? Which would play to Ghost’s strengths better? And more importantly, which would Cassidy choose?
He was jolted from his tentative strategies when Bloom thrust a velcro contraption at him. She asked him if he needed help securing the harness. Ghost shook his head. “Seems fairly self-explanatory,” he said, noting the obvious anatomical resemblance. He carefully stepped through the leg holes and hiked the harness up, glancing at Cassidy for reference as needed. When he finished, the harness felt just on the verge of uncomfortably snug. However, clearly it wasn’t secure enough, because Bloom descended on him, cinching the belt so that it squeezed the sides of his abdomen and momentarily disrupted his breath. As his former co-worker’s hands flitted over his waist, his thighs, like a seamstress taking his measurements for a suit, Ghost tensed, stifling several extremely different reactions. “Are you normally this handsy on the first date, Bloom?” he asked the question flatly, his voice controlled because he wasn’t sure what it would sound like otherwise, and he wasn’t keen on finding out. “Isn’t it customary to buy me dinner first?”
Despite his bravado, heat was blazing up his neck, and he was eternally grateful that his back was to Bloom, and she couldn’t see his face. But he wasn’t so lucky where Cassidy was concerned, because she was peering directly into it. Her eyes were scrunched up at the corners and she held a prim hand over her lips, as if she were stifling the urge to howl with laughter. Ghost glared hotly at her, thinking that if she breathed a word about this to anyone, he was going to have a new addition to his criminal record very soon.
When Bloom approved of the fit of Ghost’s harness and finally stepped away, he took a few hard breaths, his firsts in what felt like over a minute. And I haven’t even touched the rock wall yet, he noted sardonically. Cassidy asked Bloom to count them down, and Ghost agreed, welcoming the distraction. His opponent hunkered down to get a burst of speed on the start, and he belatedly copied her. His eyes scanned the rock wall as he reviewed the matrix of paths he could choose, still not having committed to one. When Bloom gave the call for them to start, Ghost still felt slightly discombobulated by and not at all ready for the task ahead of him. Meaning it as a playful shove to buy him some time, he clumsily knocked shoulders with Cassidy. The blow wasn’t strong enough to topple her, but it staggered her, and he reached the rock wall first while she was recovering her balance. Ghost spontaneously chose to take one of the oblique paths, the ones with fewer handhelds but a more straightforward climb. His arms were already slightly fatigued from bouldering, and he doubted he possessed the strength to tackle the angled rockwall.
His hands and feet moving in a rhythmic flurry, he rocketed up the first few stepping stones off the floor with ease. Hand over foot, other hand over other foot. Below him and somewhere off to the right came additional sounds of scrabbling. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as he pushed faster, fighting to retain his lead over Cassidy, but it wasn’t enough to block out the searing throb in his deltoids and lats. Ghost gritted his teeth. Sucked air in through his nostrils and puffed it out through pursed lips. Willed his feet and hands to fly faster over the wall. It wasn’t the fast movement that was the problem so much as the lifting. If Ghost lied to himself, he could almost believe that he was climbing a trellis propped up against a house he’d marked for burglary, snaking up its length to the waiting second-story window. Just a much more asymmetrical, dispersed trellis, one where the handhelds were lumpy mounds that his fingers couldn’t neatly wrap around.
Finding himself at a junction where the next stone hovered just above his extended fingertips, Ghost contorted himself, lifting one leg up and out to hook around a stone to the side. When he looked over, he unexpectedly locked eyes with Cassidy, again. She’d caught up, and as he teetered for balance, she was in a position to overtake him. Instead, she dawdled to chat. Or possibly gloat. Ghost despised the ease with which she spoke, as if she were wading through shallow waters, and not undergoing the toughest workout of her week. He detected the unspoken question in her words, yet surprisingly enough, they were almost a compliment. A slightly accusatory one, but still. “Is that to say you expected me to be an inept oaf?” he equivocated, his voice a rough growl from effort. If Cassidy was going to hunt for information with a statement, then he’d answer with a question. Despite the chalk Ghost had smeared on his hands, his grip was so sweaty. If it weren’t for the considerable hand strength he’d developed dealing and flourishing cards, Ghost had no doubt that he would have slipped to his “death” by now.
While he hung in limbo on his stone just out of reach, Cassidy scuttled past him, clearly intending to show off. She bunched her legs together and flung herself at a stone that was several inches above the full extension of her arms. A precarious beat passed where she fumbled for grip, for so long that Ghost wondered whether she would be automatically disqualified for slipping. But then her body surged with strength, and Cassidy finally heaved herself up. Now her feet were parallel with Ghost’s fingertips, fully raised above his head. She’d finally wrested the lead from him. But if she kept pausing to chat, to insist that there was no way he could be new to the sport, that didn’t mean she would keep it. With a snarl and a burst of strength, he heaved himself up, just as she’d done, until they were nearly level again. “What makes you think I’m not just a gifted learner?” he ground out. “Maybe Cassidy Wickham isn’t the smartest person in the room this time, hm?” It wasn’t a lie; just misdirection from the truth of Ghost’s criminal past.
A bead of sweat rolled out from Ghost’s hairline and streaked across his upturned face. His heart was hacking like a scythe in his chest, and he’d been too transfixed on staying ahead of Cassidy to realize it previously, but they were nearing dangerously close to the top of the wall. Some chaotic part of Ghost dared him to throw a glance over his shoulder, just to marvel at how ridiculously high off the ground he was. But the thought was erased from his mind when Cassidy scoffed at his retort. As if she were enacting wordless vengeance, she raced up the short remainder of the wall, her hands and feet moving in unison like some gravity-defying creature with hooked claws, and tagged the blocky white line that marked the end. Ghost fumed silently to himself. He’d let Cassidy’s riddles play with his head, frustrating him and distracting him from the competition. But another part of him knew that, no matter how hard he tried, there was no beating a veteran climber on his first go, no matter his effort or aptitude.
Although he’d already lost, Ghost wasn’t about to let his hard work go to waste, and a minute later he brushed against the finish line. Cassidy hadn’t waited up for him. By the time of his abbreviated victory, she was—infuriatingly—already starting down the wall, dangling from the cord connected to her harness and pushing off the wall with both feet in periodic bounces. Ghost paused a long minute to catch his breath, his pulse hammering in his ears and his eyes having difficulty focusing on any one pinpoint. And then he followed her example, knowing that his body was so drained that he wouldn’t be able to shield himself adequately if he were to collide with the wall. As he descended, he tipped his head back, and, under the overbright lights, the world seemed to swirl in a never-ending spiral, like an optical illusion, or perhaps a maelstrom. If his harness were to suddenly unclip from the cable and he plunged to the floor, Ghost imagined that he would struggle to react with the proper amount of fear, he was so fatigued. Everything sagged limply in his harness, his skeleton one step away from splintering. He felt like an overloved ragdoll, limp and coming apart at the joints.
Ghost wasn’t aware of the ground’s proximity until his feet contacted it. He lurched in surprise, falling to one knee before righting himself. His bones protested with a stab of pain as they bore his full weight once again. A pale smudge filled his vision, resolving into a girl’s angular face. Cassidy Wickham’s voice was brighter, cheerier than he was used to hearing it, as she thanked him for his participation and told him that they’d have to do it again sometime, like a gameshow host assuring a losing contestant with a consolation prize. “I’d like that,” Ghost said, surprising himself with the sincerity with which he said it. Remembering that he and Cassidy weren’t alone, he swung his gaze to Bloom, the self-proclaimed expert climber whose abilities Ghost had yet to see put to the test. “Don’t let us hold you back from having some fun, Bloom. Why don’t you do a climb and show Cassidy and me how it’s done? I’m sure we could learn a lot from your technique.”
Every word that fell from Chris’s lips left Fable feeling warm inside to the point she worried she might be noticeably flushing. He was so kind to her, he always knew what to say to make her feel like she truly belonged not only in Dauntless but simply as a person trying to exist. Honestly this wasn’t what she had expected when she took her first steps into Dauntless on that train so many weeks ago. Back then she was just another transfer trying to find her way and Chris…well Chris was the prince of Dauntless. She in no way would have ever expected that they would ever become close but she was so incredibly grateful that they had. When Chris answered her question in turn a knot formed in Fable’s stomach and she instantly felt guilty for putting him on the spot like that. She knew very well how loaded that question could be and Chris’s answer left her feeling like she had pried into a part of him that he didn’t enjoy thinking about. She knew very well the pressure of being expected to do something simply because it was what family wanted. Fable’s family had wanted her to stay in Abnegation and she was grateful every day that their wants meant nothing to her. Chris on the other hand seemed to care a great deal about what his family wanted. He had chosen to stay in Dauntless because it was what was expected of him, the exact opposite of what she had done.
Silence fell over the duo in the wake of Chris’s question. Glancing over at the young man sitting next to her Fable could tell he was deep in thought. Scanning his features she felt she could almost see his mind working to explore the caverns of his memories and thoughts. For an instant the fiery haired girl wished she could read minds so she could tell what was going on in his head. Had she caused him to mentally relive something he hadn’t wanted to? Was he trying to process a question he had no desire to think about? Fable had no idea but she sat in silence and patiently waited for the blonde son of dauntless to make his way out of whatever thoughts or memories had consumed him. She wasn’t one to rush someone when they clearly needed time to think but she did pray to anyone listening that she hadn’t said the wrong thing and upset Chris to the point that he no longer wished to speak with her. As she waited for Chris to process his thoughts Fable’s gaze fell towards the chasm. Mismatched irises settled on a point in the darkness where a crack along the wall was just barely visible. With her attention split between the crack and Chris simple thoughts floated through her mind. How long had the crack been there? Was it man-made or did it happen over time? Did the crack hold anything? These thoughts were silly and just meant to pass the time as the two sat in silence. Eventually though the thoughts weren’t enough to keep her distracted from her desire to check on Chris again. Silently turning her gaze back towards the young handsome male Fable gently raised her hand and placed it on his arm. “Hey, are you alright?” She asked, her words soft much like her gaze as she met his stormy blue eyes. Her breath caught in her throat slightly as Chris’s hand was placed upon her knee and once again she could feel warmth spread through her and knew she must be blushing at this point but did her best to make it go away. After a few seconds of his thumb gently tracing a circular pattern on her knee Chris moved his hand away, gently brushing her thigh as he did so and leaving Fable with a sensation of loss as she subconsciously missed his touch. She blinked and mentally told herself to snap out of whatever haze had come over her. She was not the type to blush and swoon and she didn’t want to start now, especially when she knew Chris wasn’t interested in her like that and still clearly loved Blair. Chris’s words made it easier to push the thoughts away for the moment and quickly the young man had Fable’s undivided attention. She listened carefully as he opened up to her about why he picked Dauntless and how he did so for his friends and family but also that he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. He then pointed out that if he had gone to another faction the two of them would have never met and Fable couldn’t help but smile. A few heartbeats later he confessed to being placed in Candor by the aptitude test and how his family had replied to it. “It sounds like they understood at least.” She encouraged though she already clearly knew how that story had played out since Chris was sitting here in Dauntless with her now. As she thought about it she wondered how Chris would have done in Candor. She had only ever thought about him as a member of Dauntless, much like so many others, but she also knew Chris was incredibly honest. Perhaps he would have done well in Candor but like he said, if he had gone the two of them never would have met and she found herself selfishly happy that they had. “It can be hard…” She began carefully. “Trying to figure out where you belong, I mean.” Fable continued and looked back at the crack she had been staring at a few moments ago. “We all have to do our best to know ourselves and that is a lot to ask anyone at our age.” The last words were accompanied by a soft chuckle.
Silence returned between the two of them for several minutes as they sipped their smoothies and simply enjoyed each other's presence. Chris’s sudden shift beside her grabbed her attention and she turned to see him looking intently at her. Asking permission to share something with her Fable nodded and understood that whatever was to come out of Chris’s mouth next was clearly very serious and she couldn’t help but be concerned. At first it seemed that her concern wasn’t warranted as Chris informed her how much he wanted to train with her and how they could possibly work together to one day be paired up on a squad together as partners. The idea seemed so out of left field that the surprise, delight, and honor Fable felt almost winded her. She knew Chris was always so kind in mentioning her skills and praising her but she never expected he would want to be squad partners with her in the future provided they both passed initiation. Her concern quickly reared up again though when Chris continued and began to expose his secret addiction to her. The words tumbled forth and Fable did her best to consume them all and process every bit of what Chris told her so she wasn’t left behind in this serious discussion. At no point did Fable ever feel disgusted or put off by Chris’s confession. In fact, she was incredibly grateful he felt he could share such a thing with her but still she could not keep herself from feeling fear for her friend. Addictions could be very serious, life threatening even. She instantly pictured Chris dead from an overdose, his skin pale, lips blue, eyes glazed. She hated that image, she hated it so much. Clearly her concern had shown as soon Chris began to backpedal and apologize for oversharing. As he coughed Fable reached forward and rubbed his back in gentle circles. “Don’t.” She replied as he apologized again. “Don’t apologize to me.” She clarified and as the coughing stopped and he looked at her she took a risk and leaned forward to carefully wrap her arms around him in a hug he could easily leave if he wanted. “Thank you for sharing that with me.” She uttered, her voice steady but laced with emotions she did her best to hold back. “If I can help, and I mean at ANY point, please let me know. I don’t want you to have to deal with any of that alone and I want you to know you always have someone you can call if anything happens.” As she spoke she made sure her words were firm yet caring, making it crystal clear that she meant every single one of them. “Because if we are gonna be partners then you need to know I have your back…no matter what.”
Christian Parks || 16 || Initiate || Dauntlessborn
The feeling of Fable wrapping her arms around Christian was something he hadn't realized he had missed. He had often wrapped his arms around people he loved, but the last time he could remember being wrapped in someone else's arms was when his mother had hugged him as a child. A wave of raw and hard emotion rushed through him and he pressed his face into her hair, eyes clenched shut, only for a moment, as he let the moment sink in for just a couple seconds, then he loosened himself, and put his arms around Fable, squeezing her ever so gently and then pulling back respectfully. The words she had uttered while they were embracing rang clearly in his ears, and he treasured them. He had always been honest, and with people he cared about he never struggled to tell them the truth, which is why it had just run out of his mouth now with Fable beside him. He truly felt a connection to her that he didn't feel with so many people, he felt that he knew her better than he knew many others. But now he felt guilty, even with her saying that she didn't want him to apologize, he had seen fear in her eyes, fear that he had given her... It wasn't the normal fear that he had seen in people's eyes because of him, most of the time people feared him due to his anger, or his position, or his size, but Fable had feared something else, and it gave him a small insight to Shay. From what Christian could figure out, maybe he was wrong, it had looked like Fable had feared him having pain, or having the addiction, or getting sick. Whatever it was had torn at Christian's heart and it was why he had stopped, and he hadn't continued sharing the last part of what he was going to tell her. I'm dying. He thought to himself plainly, something he had said pretty easily to Shay, something that he had known pretty easily himself, and something that he hadn't been afraid to tell his family or Blair. But with Fable he didn't want to see that look on her again, he didn't want to be the reason she felt sadness or pain. She didn't need to know it. He wouldn't lie about it, he didn't even know if he could, although he wanted to share everything with her, he stayed his tongue and kept it to himself. It would likely come up another time, but he didn't need to share it now. Plus, it wasn't like he was given a timeline anyway. As they left their embrace, Christian needed to couch some more, and Fable returned to rubbing his back with her hand, and he again felt a shiver of emotion as if he was transported back to being a child with his mother. It took a minute or so for his coughs to simmer down, and he was grateful for the dark fabric of his hoodie that hid any blood that may have come up, his mouth tasted of lull and metallic flavouring, so he wasn't entirely sure he had coughed up blood or not. However, he did look at the smoothies, his throat needing something to wash down it. Unfortunately for him his one was empty, but as Fable saw him eyeing them she quickly offered him hers, and he tried to thank her, but ended up coughing again for a few seconds into his sleeve, before quickly drinking the rest of her smoothie. The liquid helped to soothe the irritating tickle in his throat, and momentarily gave the pain some relief. "Thank you." He said, his voice finally returning to normal and his throat now clear. "I'll buy you another one." He said. She told him it was fine, and asked if he was okay or if he needed anything. "No it's okay, I think that did the trick for now, I'll have to take some medicine later but... Thank you." He reiterated his thanks with a soft smile.
Having caused a slightly awkward end to their conversation, he remembered how he had suggested the partnership and she had seemed interested in that. "Would you like to do some training now? I'll check my phone but I'm pretty sure I'm still free... Unless Briony or Aubrey have messaged me..." He quickly opened his phone, no messages or calls. "Well it looks like nobody wants me for now, so I'm all yours if you want to do something. The training room is probably empty." He said with a shrug. Fable nodded and agreed that it would be fun. Christian grinned and quickly got up, a wave of dizziness spread over him for just a second as he stood, and he felt his hand steady himself with his hand to the ground, but then he was fine, and he stood up easily and waited for Fable, offering her a hand to get up and then putting his hands in his pockets as they headed back towards the training room. Christian would have enjoyed talking more as they walked, but he was concerned that his throat would have more problems if he used it, and so he simply walked with his mouth closed, breathing through his nose as best he could. He didn't even think about the direction they were going, as it was so natural to walk through Dauntless and he had gone to the training room so many times. It made him think back on Fable and his conversation, about what factions they had been suited for. HE couldn't even imagine Candor, he knew nothing about it. He would have been making things up if he tried, not even remembering what colours they wore. He knew it was all about honesty, and after thinking about it he remembered they were lawyers, but he didn't remember much else from that. How bizarre it would have been if he had truly gone there, if he had gone where his aptitude had told him to. He was glad he hadn't left, he loved Dauntless, it was his home and his family was here. Thinking of family, he looked down at Fable who walked beside him. Her family was back in Abnegation, apart from Griffon, but she felt no desire to be with them. The very thought was confusing and muddled up his mind. His family had been his support through his whole life, and on the whole most of them had always loved and cared for him. He couldn't imagine a family that was different to that. There were many things about Fable's family he couldn't imagine. He found himself speaking before he even thought about it. "So... you were an only child right? Before your family adopted Griffon?" He asked. He watched as Fable was clearly surprised at this question, having not thought that to be the thing he would say. She quickly recovered though, confirming that to be true. "I can't imagine that... I am the youngest in my family, and I have... six siblings. I think." He said, stopping for a second and using his fingers to count his siblings in his head. Phillip, Asher, Terra, Felicia, Oscar, Jacob. He nodded, continuing his walk. "And three nieces." He added. "Did you want siblings growing up? Did you like when you got a brother?" He asked, listening to her as she spoke a little about her childhood.
It didn't take long for them to get to the training room, and Christian looked around to see if anyone else was using it, but to his delight there was nobody there. "Awesome, we have the place to ourselves. I'm just gonna get a drink of water before we start, I'll meet you at the mats?" He asked, getting an affirming nod from Fable as he walked away. Although he did truly need water, he was dying to have a bit more lull. He wasn't quite sure when the last time had some was, and he knew he only had half of what he'd prepared this morning after offering some to Shay. That half was meant to be a whole serving for him, but he didn't think he was meant to have a whole serving yet. But... he really wanted some. He was holding back bloody and painful coughs, his body felt slightly shivery and weak, and he was developing a slight headache, if it could be called that. Having a little wouldn't make anything worse, he imagined. As he went to the water fountain to drink some water, he checked to see if Fable was watching, then when he saw she wasn't he turned, making sure his back was to her, and took some of his Lull. Immediately he felt an electric sensation rush through him, his mind burst as if his headache had exploded, but instead of pain it felt like colour had somehow physically exploded within him. His mouth was flooded with fruity flavours and he felt himself shiver in delight at this feeling. He drank some more water, feeling already revitalised by this hit, and shivering again but this time in delight and joy. He ran his hands through his hair a couple times and took one more sip before walking back over to Fable. His fists clenched and unclenched with a lot more energy flowing through him now, and he almost had a slight skip to his step, his eyes also seemed brighter and his pallor had been replaced with healthier tan skintone. "Let's do some warm ups, and then you can pick what we train with. Hand to hand is always good, but I'm happy to do some weaponry if you want." Christian said, pointing to the array of weapons that were stacked along the wall. He picked two mats and then before getting onto his to begin his stretches, he removed his jumper and t-shirt. It was not unusual for him to be bare chested, but as he took it off he noticed a slight colour change in Fable's face, and was suddenly aware that it might make her uncomfortable. "Would you rather I put my shirt back on? I usually take it off so I don't ruin it or have it get in the way." He said, and watched as she seemed to quickly shake her head and say it was fine. He threw his clothes to the side. "I always find stretching a good thing to do first, that way your body warms up to whatever you're about to do. Aubrey loves running but I'm not a huge runner, I prefer weights and sparring." He said. "If you don't have any good warm ups then I can teach you some. These are what I do." He said, then began to show Fable a bunch of warm ups that left the body feeling alive and opened up. For a couple he even moved over, helping her to position her arms and legs in the right way to get the best stretch, not finding it at all awkward to do so when he was only half dressed. His mind was soaring high in the sky from his shot of lull and his heart was beating very fast because of it. He felt like he could smell Fable's perfume or whatever she'd used to wash her hair, and for some reason that made him enjoy helping her out even more. Once they had finished the stretches he stood up and looked at all the weaponry. "So, hand to hand or weapons? Your choice." He said with a smile.
Phillip Parks || 19 || Soldier/Trainer || Dauntlessborn
Phillip sighed as he listened to Briony. The fact of Blair missing had been worrying him as well, of course it had simply been a passing word from Christian, and him noticing she wasn't there today, but even so... He had seen far too much of disappearances lately, that and the fact that some of those disappearances ended up very badly. He closed his eyes, his ears listening to Briony but his thoughts on something else. The red headed initiate was the first to come to mind, it was too hard for it not be the one that came to mind... Strung up and like a slaughtered pig in a butchers... it was disgusting and inhumane. He was glad that he didn't have to do much with that, other people were set on removing her body and all of that nonsense, but he had seen it, and it was scarred into his brain. The idea of that being someone he knew, someone like Blair? Briony? Randi? Aubrey? Bloom? It was too painful to even think about, and it wasn't the only one... There had been the boy who had been shot, the boy who had jumped or been pushed into the chasm, Finn's complete disappearance... Caspian's death was also an ongoing mystery, he had heard bits and pieces, and he knew that Charlie was the top suspect, and thus he knew that it was not even nearly finished in investigation, because Charlie would never and could never kill anyone, let alone her best friend. He sighed audibly, thinking about how hard it must be on Briony, worrying so much about her twin sister. "I feel your worry. I'm worried too. There's so much going on that is... Concerning to say the very least." He said with a strange serious tone that wasn't usual for him. He leaned up on one elbow, looking over at Briony to see if she was okay. He could see the worry in her eyes, the stress that was held in her body, and he was glad that he had taken her out here, hopefully brought away some of the stress, and given her some fun and some calm in nature. As the conversation leaned more to the prospect of her working with him he laughed along with her, easily flowing into the easy-going conversation and leaving the seriousness of the previous conversation behind. "Oh come on, nobody can get enough of me and you know it." He said, a raised eyebrow and a wink showing he meant it in a more intimate way than she had. He grinned at her reaction "It's going to be so strange having all of you young'uns running around like you own the place, I'm going to start feeling ancient around here." He said with a shake of his head and a hand over his heart as if mocking a heart attack. He did smile though, when she admitted that she would like to work with him. "Ahh then mademoiselle I will wait for thy graduation." He said with a bow.
As Briony began to talk about Ghost, informing Phillip with extra information, he frowned somewhat. "Grumpy? That's a shame, how boring it must be to be grumpy all of the time. The people I know who are boring are also the most grumpy, and vice versa." He said with a shrug, but wondered how far the grumpiness extended to. Was it just surface level or was there more? He desperately wanted to find out more, there was always such a good fun about poking people and getting under their skin. "Well I will certainly try, thanks for the boost of confidence, wish me luck and all that. Maybe i'll even manage to get him back as an instructor." He said with a flourish of his hands. He knew that was very unlikely, if he had been fired by someone and his dad didn't like it but couldn't undo it? Then that meant it was probably Jeremy who fired him. He couldn't imagine why Briony's dad would have fired him, and Obadiah definitely didn't, so therefore it must have been Jeremy. Phillip knew that if Jeremy did something that people disliked, then everyone pretended to like it or they never brought up their dislike. Jeremy was a fine Dauntless leader but he was certainly terrifying. He had not become the top dog from nowhere. His competitors had either become complacent like Obadiah and Mr Avalon, or else they had died or disappeared. Jeremy made no secret to this. It was, seemingly, something he was proud of, his circle of fear. But yet... people loved him, Dauntless loved him, they worshipped him, he exhibited everything about Dauntless that they loved. Phillip wondered it was a miracle his dad was in leadership, he wasn't really Dauntless material... But yet he had remained, probably due to his Erudite wit and pride. If he managed to ever be leader, he wondered what he would do. He wouldn't rule with an iron scepter or a kingdom of fear, but he would want to promote freedom and... well he would love if factions could be more fluid... He wondered if there was a world where you could continuously change your faction, to whatever suited your desires... That was a world in which he would be happy. Although Dauntless was perfect for his aptitude, there were so many problems about it that he would happily change or remove. But that would never happen, and he wasn't going to lie to himself thinking that it could.
As they both dried they began to think and talk about what they might do next. "Well, I wanted to help you destress and I hope that I have." He said with a smile and a grateful nod from Briony. "I was thinking, we could just stroll through the malls, I know you've probably taken your search for Briony quite seriously and will do much the same as Aubrey has been doing for Finn, but we could try give out hope that she's just spending her post-break up doing things like shopping or being alone. If nothing else then we can just stroll along and have a good time, and maybe buy some clothes." He said, offering her this chance to hang out. "Plus, when you want to go out with Aubrey and Chris then you won't be too far away from the bar?" He suggested. Briony seemed to agree that it was a decent idea, and the two got dressed and headed off. Phillip took a few minutes to make sure Honey was okay, giving her a pet and a rub, kissing her nose and making sure she had drunk enough water, he gave her a few treats from his jacket and then they all went jogging back towards Dauntless. The only thing that even reminded them that they'd been swimming was the damp hair they both had, but otherwise the sun had dried them off nicely. Phillip walked a bit in front of Briony, with Honey in front of him, so that she wouldn't feel intimidated. He made sure to let Honey have plenty of freedom in front of them, and would dawdle and linger if she wanted to sniff at something or needed to relieve herself. It didn't take too long for them to make it back to the Dauntless compound, and before long they were happily strolling through the main mall. It was a busy time of the day, so it was hard to keep the lookout for someone like Blair. Although Blair was very beautiful, much like Briony, there wasn't anything particularly unique about their appearance when trying to look for them in a crowd. For someone like Christian it was easy, he usually towered over people, or for Phillip it was his mop of dark brown curly hair, or Bloom's red streaks, or Aubrey's extremely loud voice. But there were many blonde, beautiful, Dauntless girls around, and many could look like Blair if you were skimming the crowd with your eyes. However that wasn't the entire reason for coming to the mall. Phillip enjoyed just strolling through with Briony, enjoying the public thrall of the mall with its people and crowds and sounds and background music. He strolled happily with his hands in his pockets, resisting the urge to whistle along to the song playing and instead humming to it below his breath. As they passed by a clothing store he motioned in. "Wanna try some clothes?" He asked. "We could pick an outfit for each other?"
One might think Vex would have mixed feelings upon being shown several individuals much like herself. Would she think she is getting replaced? Would she view them as threats to her place in Dr. Munro’s plans? Would she see them as allies towards the cause? But in reality Vex thought very little of them. They were in tubes, they were unconscious, they could not hold a candle to all that she could do as was obvious by the fact that Dr. Munro needed her in order to make them work. She lay on the table for however long the good doctor requested her to and did not move a muscle and risk disrupting his work. She could hear Dr. Munro and Bellatrix talking, their voices ones she knew she could listen to without ever growing tired of them. The duo worked methodically and occasionally Vex felt pressure on her head or neck but as per usual she felt no pain or discomfort. She was used to being handled in such a way and it had been many years since she had last felt true pain during one of these procedures. As Dr. Munro began to wrap up his work on her Vex performed a few reflex tests and displayed several moves he requested from her in perfect form. She was his prized project, he could not replace her and she would never question such a thing. She knew the doctor knew she was absolutely loyal to him, if he asked her to fall upon her own weapon she would do so without hesitation, that kind of loyalty could never be tossed aside or recreated.
As Vex gathered her belongings and threw her jacket over her arms Dr. Munro walked over to the catwalk again and looked down at the beings resting in the tubes. “They’ll be ready soon.” He told her with a glint in his eye that made her trust even more that he knew she was still his favorite. She was out here doing everything for him after all, not laying useless in a tube. After a moment longer spent looking down at the faces behind the glass Dr. Munro began to speak to her once more and Vex listened as though nothing else in the world mattered. He filled her in on the purpose of the beings below, that they would be part of a team made specifically for their goals. He filled her in on all the information he deemed it important for her to know at this time and once he was done Vex began to give him the full debrief of all that had occurred in Dauntless since she had last seen him. She mentioned the missing initiates and instructors, some of which she had already told him during meetings prior. Her information download also included mention of Chris’s eagerness to meet with Dr. Munro again and continue his treatments or find out if there is anything he can be doing to help the doctor. This information along with the rest seemed to please Dr. Munro, something Vex was able to read despite his expression never really changing. He was pleased to know that all of their efforts with Chris seemed to be paying off as the blonde grew more and more loyal with each passing day. “Bring him by today or tomorrow. We can start another round of treatments and tests.” Dr. Munro instructed, to which Vex replied with a wordless nod.
Soon after her debrief was complete Bellatrix appeared by her side and guided Vex back through the heavily secured hallways. Once Vex was outside the lab the young living weapon began to make her way stealthily back to Dauntless. It was an easy task given that she was familiar with just about every path and backway this city had to offer, especially between Erudite and Dauntless sections of the city. She had been trained in the geography of the compounds at all levels and knew routes not even the factionless had found yet. Sneaking back into Dauntless was like a walk in the park for her as she traveled alone. It was different when she had Chris with her and had to worry about making sure he didn’t get caught or left behind. He was good at keeping up with her most of the time though so she didn’t really have any complaints. As Vex continued down the sidewalk now safely back in the Dauntless compound she passed a cafe that had a bright red door and smelled strongly of coffee and pastries. Nothing about the place really interested her until out of the corner of her eyes she spotted Charlie sitting with several people she couldn’t yet see. Curiosity about what more she could learn struck and drew Vex inside. Casually the young woman approached the counter and looked at the menu before ordering an affogato and a brownie which she planned to pair together. All the while she kept an eye on Charlie with highly trained subtlety.
Thorn was thrilled to know he had made Aubrey’s day even the slightest bit better by completing the dagger she had requested. His stomach had been in knots just before presenting it to her, knowing she was already feeling unwell and worried he had possibly messed up the design which would only hurt her more. As she looked at it though, the delight that spread across her face felt like warm sunshine to the young man who had worked so hard in the hopes of pleasing her and making her day even the slightest bit better. He still felt guilt burning inside him over how long the task had taken and how he had neglected it for days, even if it was for understandable reasons. When Aubrey asked him to do something with the other dagger Thorn had to admit he was surprised. “Are you sure?” He asked, his gaze showing how he still felt awful for taking so long on the last commission. When Aubrey insisted he carefully took the dagger from her and placed it in a display box for safety so that it wouldn’t go missing or get damaged. “I promise I’ll have it back to you as soon as I can.” He insisted, wanting Aubrey to trust that he truly meant those words. He wouldn’t leave her hanging again.
Soon after the duo had made their way down several streets and into the tattoo district of Dauntless. Tattooing was one of the greatest arts that came out of the Dauntless compound so as one could imagine there were countless shops boasting their different skill sets and tattoo forms. The shop Aubrey wandered into was one Thorn knew rather well. Aubrey might not remember it but the two of them had seen the artist that owned the shop display her skills during the tattoo show. Thorn could still remember how dazzled Aubrey had been by the snake tattoo they witnessed and how detailed each scale seemed to be as the snake glided around the scars of the man's skin. While the Aubrey buzzed around the shop looking for the perfect thorn design for her, he couldn’t help but wander over to the desk where a young woman sat. “Ummm…hi, excuse me?” He cleared his throat a bit as he spoke so his voice didn’t do anything weird. “I was curious if Nadali had any openings coming up?” He asked, hope burning inside him. The young woman gave him a look like he must be lacking brain cells and popped her bubble gum loudly before informing him Nadali was booked out months in advance. “Right…uhhh, thank you.” He nodded and turned to walk away before he had an idea and turned back to face her. “If Nadali has a wait-list I would like to be added to it.” He told her, his voice polite but a bit more firm. “I have the money and the design ready. If anyone cancels I can likely be here to take their spot.” He pointed out and the girl at the desk sighed before agreeing to take his name and number to add to Nadali’s wait-list. It wasn’t a guarantee but it was a start and Thorn was happy to have it. He was still dead set on getting a badger to cover the scar on his chest so he would no longer have to feel ripped open all over again any time he took off his shirt.
Just as he finished giving the girl his number a firm grasp on his arm told him Aubrey had found something she really liked and instantly the young man was whisked away towards a display of tattoo barbed wire. “Wow.” He gasped as he looked at it. It certainly wasn’t thorns but there was a beauty to the curved razor wire that allowed him to understand why it caught Aubrey’s attention. Her praise for his genius caused the young man to turn a bit red in the face as he shook his head, “The find was all yours.” He insisted, wanting to make sure Aubrey felt this was something she chose since it was. Aubrey bolted over to the artist she had been talking to and showed him the picture of the barbed wire she wanted around her tattoo. As the two spoke Thorn stood and waited patiently, his breath getting stuck in his throat a bit when he tuned back in to find Aubrey removing her shirt. Clearly he hadn’t realized that the location of the tattoo meant she would need to remove her shirt and unclip her bra. As she did so Thorn was about to look away when the beauty of her tattoo and the way the fire on the gem seemed to ripple with the movements of her back caught his eye. The slight hum of the tattoo pen turning on snapped him out of his trance and Thorn politely looked away. He would hate to make Aubrey feel like he was trying to perv on her in any sort of way. Wanting to be a good support for his friend Thorn stood close by, looked around at a few things, and occasionally spoke so Aubrey would know he was still there. He even began to share a few fun animal facts that the artist seemed to enjoy as well. When Aubrey suddenly requested a frappuccino Thorn knew she must be starting to feel drained again. She had already endured a lot today, having seriously passed out at least one time that he knew of. So, if Aubrey wanted caffeine he would get it for her, hell if she asked him to rip the moon out of the sky he would give it his best try to make the day even the slightest bit easier for the worn out blonde he had grown to care so deeply for. “Yeah, of course. I’ll be back before you know it.” He agreed and didn’t bother to take her money, planning to pay with his own without her knowing.
Making his way down the street it wasn’t long before Thorn came across a hole in the wall cafe. Inside smelled strongly of coffee and cookies and luckily for the freckled brunette the line wasn’t long at all. Less than ten minutes later Thorn had a mocha cookie chip frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso in one hand and a hot chocolate with cinnamon on top in the other. He tucked a straw for Aubrey’s drink into his jacket pocket and began to make his way back down the street, a surprise cookie for Aubrey being held with the straw. As Thorn entered the tattoo shop and made his way back to the work area he arrived just in time to witness Aubrey jump up from the table, her bra not exactly coming with her. “Aubrey, I'm so sorry!” He gasped and instantly shut his eyes to try and give her the privacy and respect she deserved. “I didn’t see anything, I swear.” He added and felt his face growing hot with embarrassment. He must seem like such a perv for walking in completely unannounced. Hearing her giggling and asking the artist to clip her bra for her helped Thorn feel a little better, clearly she wasn’t upset with him. Once she had her top back on Thorn glanced over, still blushing, and held out her drink. “I uhhh…Here is your frap.” He stuttered and looked embarrassed all over again. She took a sip of the drink and seemed happy with the flavor he chose which was a relief after the flub he made entering the shop. “Yeah, we can go look for Finn. I was actually thinking maybe we could check near the river, by the bridge?” Thorn suggested. “Not sure if you have looked there much yet but we could easily take the train from there if we wanted to?”
Charlotte "Charlie" Stark || 20 || Medic || Dauntlessborn
The afternoon happily ticked away and Charlie found herself almost forgetting Jeremy in the midst of the happiness she felt being in the company of these girls. Almost, but not fully, the pain in her wrist was a stark reminder of Jeremy's touch on her body, she could still recall the feel of his lips on her neck and collarbone, of his hands on her body. She could still smell the stench of alcohol and the overpowering expensive cologne. It still felt like Jeremy was right behind her breathing down her neck, ready to snap it if he so desired. Charlie couldn't help herself and sometimes looked behind her, but obviously he was not there, she knew he wouldn't be, but yet... she couldn't help herself. It ate her up until she would turn around and see that it was just normal people in the shop, and then she would feel foolish and would go back to the conversation. She felt herself sinking lower and wishing she'd put on a hat so that Jeremy wouldn't even be able to recognize her hair, but hopefully he wouldn't ever come into a place like this anyhow. She sipped at her tea contentedly, even as the fear gnawed inside her, because even with that fear present and prevalent, the joy of hanging out with these beautiful women and girls was so much that Charlie felt so happy in this one moment. Hailey had cuddled up beside her and was drawing with some pens and paper her mother had brought. Charlie would comment on how beautiful it was, and sometimes Hailey would ask Charlie to help her. The conversation between Pitera and Brianna was pleasant, and Charlie mostly enjoyed listening whilst the other two were quite happy to chatter on. Charlie figured that they had organized hanging out today and Charlie was the outlier. She didn't feel unwanted at all, but she figured that it wasn't the plan to have Charlie here, but was just meant to be the families. But nobody said anything, nor did any of them even hint at desiring her to leave, in fact they often asked for her opinion, or even just asked how she was. "I'm good! I'm living in Caspian's old apartment, it's closer to training and it helps me remember him." She answered as they inquired about how she was. At the mention of Caspian the girls quickly gave her their condolences and she felt her throat well up a little, she clenched her good hand into a fist under the table, and forced a smile. "Thanks.." She said with a slight strain. It was painful still to think of Caspian, he was gone... properly gone. He had been her friend growing up, her first boyfriend, her best friend, someone who she thought she could trust beyond compare... She had loved him with a love that couldn't end, even after death. She thought about what he would be doing now if he hadn't died, he'd still be living with Ghost, he would still be a trainer, and life would be the same as it was when he was here. She wondered what Caspian would have thought about her and Ghost being together, whether he would have liked it or hated it, would he have become jealous? Would he have been very possessive and wanting to protect? She smiled at that thought, of Caspian being like a big older brother. As she looked at the two girls, she felt a similar bond with them, even though she didn't know them as well. They'd known each other growing up, although the other two were both older than Charlie, but they'd always gotten along well. Plus, since the Parks and Starks were so close they had also been close with those whom the Parks married/dated. She recalled Oscar's wedding, how beautiful Brianna had been, how fun the music had been and the dancing and the food. It had been a good and expensive party, and she was sure that Pitera and Jacob's would be as well. She was excited for it.
Again that creeping feeling began to crawl back into her body, starting at the base of her spine and crawling up till it was on her neck. She shivered, turning around once more (more out of habit than thought) to check her surroundings, and that's when she noticed a familiar person sitting at the bar. Vex sat there eating a brownie and drinking an affogato. Needing to take her tea cup up and ask for a refill, she excused herself from the company for a moment and went up to the bar. "Hi Vex! How are you?" She asked, smiling softly as she stood next to her. She quickly turned, asking if she could have a refill of her tea, and while she waited for that she sat on the barstool to talk to Vex. As she did, her hand subconsciously went to support her wrist, the one she believed was broken, holding it gently but making sure it won't move. As Vex answered, Charlie was given back her tea and she picked it up, sipping at it slowly as it was now very hot again. Once Vex finished, Charlie put her tea down for a moment. "Vex, I... I noticed that you don't have many people that you hang out with outside of training. IS everything okay? Have you been getting bullied? I noticed your scores are wonderful but I just want to make sure everything is okay." Charlie said, having thought back to her own observations of Vex .She had always seemed so nice, like she could be friends with everyone, and when she heard her talking to people she always thought she was so kind and thoughtful and funny. But yet... Charlie racked her brain, and as far as she could tell, for the entirety of initiation Vex had really been a loner... Except for recently when she had noticed Christian spending some time with her, but even then was sparse. It was always worrying when some people were excluded and had nobody to be with, it could cause them to be depressed or easy targets for bullying. Vex answered Charlie and calmed her worries, Charlie began to come to the conclusion that maybe Vex just enjoyed solitude, enjoyed working alone and had little requirement for social interaction. Aa Vex spoke however she became calmed with the fact that she was quite happy how she was, and Charlie felt an amount of jealousy in this, not an evil, unfriendly jealousy, but much the same as she felt towards Pitera and Brianna with their daughters. Charlie may not have desired motherhood much, but there was an appeal to it that gripped her soul when she was with children. As she was about to ask Vex something else, she suddenly felt a white hot flash of pain and momentarily felt blinded. Gritting her teeth together she bit down hard, her other hand gripping the bench and steadying her immediate light headedness. It was a miracle she didn't scream, although a sharp grunt and moan escaped her closed mouth. Turning her head quickly, she saw Hailey pulling on her hand gently.
Swallowing the throbbing pain in her wrist, and ignoring the incredible dizziness she was now feeling, she smiled as best she could at Hailey. "Is everything okay?" She asked softly. Hailey nodded, but pulled her again, and Charlie gritted her teeth again and looked at Vex with a pained look. "Just a second." She said with a painful smile. As soon as she hopped off the bar stool she transferred Hailey to her other hand, and quickly shoved her now throbbing and almost numbing pained wrist into the pocket of her jacket. As she neared the table she saw they were getting up to leave, and they asked Charlie if she still needed company. "Actually I might head to see if everythings cleaned up after training. This was so good though, we should definitely do it again." Charlie said with a warm smile and gave each of the girls a hug, hugging Hailey just a little bit tighter than all the rest. She waved as they left, and happily watched as they chattered on and the girls voices continued for a while as they walked off. Charlie looked back over at Vex, who was watching her with a mixture of emotions that Charlie could not pin point. She walked back over. "I'm going to go to the infirmary, you're welcome to walk with me if you want, otherwise I hope you have an enjoyable brownie." She said, well aware that the brownie was primarily finished at this point. Vex, for whatever reason, offered to walk with her, and Charlie was grateful. The idea of walking alone today was just too terrifying, and if she had done it she would have taken the most popular route so that if she ran into Jeremy there would be lots of people. One might think back alleys and secret ways would be better, but Charlie knew she wasn't fast or strong enough to get away from Jeremy, so she had to be smart about it. But with Vex near her she knew it highly increased her odds of having an escape should Jeremy turn up. Vex walked with her and the two girls didn't talk too much, Charlie was trying hard not too give in to the dizziness and nausea that the pain had induced, and so was grateful for the silence. As they got to the infirmary Charlie was grateful to see that it had not recently been used, a good sign. She opened the door and turned the light on, the old light flickering with a hint of static sound. "Thank you for walking with me Vex." She said, as she began to look around for some pain relief and some bandages or cast. Vex entered the infirmary, to Charlie's surprise, and asked whether she needed help binding her wrist. Charlie blinked in surprise. "You noticed? I... It would be easier if you did. I struggle to do so on myself." She admitted, her expression still shocked that Vex had noticed her wrist. Charlie brought the supplies out to Vex and while the young initiate bound her wrist very well, including a soft but strong splint with it so that she wouldn't overly use it, she took some pain relief and drank a good load of water to help with the dizziness. "Thank you... How did you learn how to do such a good job? Most initiates only know how to do very basic first aid." She asked, as she looked and admired Vex's handiwork. "You came to Dauntless from Erudite right? What was your life like back there. Did you have family? Friends?"
Rhysand hadn’t been surprised by the amount of samples they got away with. All they needed was Randi’s charm which got them both exactly what they wanted. There were so many different flavors. It was honestly impressive how much she could get someone wrapped around her finger with just a few playful words. He could charm some people but nothing like Randi it also helped though that Randi was absolutely gorgeous. His gaze watched her for a moment before she offered him some odd green ice cream. He decided to try it thinking it was some kind of fruit or matcha flavored one. His eyes widened in disgust at the spicy pickle flavor that touched his tongue. Oh god that was terrible. Rhys hadn’t expected for it to be the flavor of pickles so with a quick swipe of his hand he smeared ice cream across Randi’s cheek. There were so many flavors they would definitely need to come back at some point to get one of everything one day. He settled on what he thought was the best, paying for his and Randi’s ice cream before she could. The two of them heading over to a table. His mind wandering to the marshmallow flavored ice cream he thought it would be good next time with a couple of the other flavors.
“I mean I’m sure somewhere it’s legal to marry ice cream. Just not sure how long that marriage would last.”Rhysand said with a laugh as he settled down into his seat more. He took a couple bites of ice cream. When she described it he thought it actually sounded really good so when she offered him a bite he happily took it. He hummed his approval.”Wow okay yeah I can see why you’d want to marry it. It’s pretty damn good.”he said, having not thought it would be that great. He wasn’t a fan of strawberry and chocolate mixed together so for it to be that delightful was surprising. Rhysand enjoyed chatting with her and talking about some meaningless stuff for a bit. It honestly reminded him of the old times together how they would joke around and be playful together. Rhysand wasn’t stupid he knew it would take more than a single day for things to get back to that point. However this was progress which was something he wasn’t sure would ever happen yet it was. It made his heart feel lighter knowing they were just talking again and doing something together like this. Though soon he led the topic to a more serious matter with everything going on he wanted to see how she was fairing. Since one of the people currently missing was a good friend of hers. His as well for that matter he had been around Blair since they were children though his bond with her wasn’t as close as the one Randi and Blair had. He could see the shift in Randi’s face as her expressions seemed to change swiftly letting her emotions show like an open book. Rhysand hadn’t meant to bring the mood down; he just figured she might wanna talk about what was happening.
He watched as her face morphed into a look of anger not at him she seemed to be angry at the situation. He could understand that since no one knew what was going on it was frustrating not knowing what was happening. The silence seemed to hang for a moment as she avoided one of his questions then suddenly she was standing up telling him they were leaving. He got up quickly listening and almost sadness filled him with her denying his request to come to his house. However her next words made sense to why she said no they were going to try and find their friends or at least information on them. His hand grabbing his ice cream having not gotten a drink this time around as they started to head out of the place. He listened as her heat filled words knowing it was more anger at herself and the situation than at him.”You are right I have done anything to help. We can start wherever you want talk with anyone who might know something on the matter.”he said. A voice spoke in his mind. It was Rafe the man was whispering faintly in the back of their mind. Rhysand wasn’t sure but he wasn’t gonna bring that name up not yet not unless a clue pointed to them being involved. He knew how hot headed Randi could be so accusing anyone could lead to Randi going after them. “Let’s go then.”he said, following after her. He took quick bites of his ice cream as they walked that way it could be finished by the time they made it to their destination.
Growing up spending far more time than she probably had any right to at the Avalon family mansion Randi knew her way there just as well as she knew her way to Freights. The thought of her uncle made her gut clench and her blood boil but she forced the feelings back for now. He wasn’t her concern at the moment, he was dead to her and she would make sure he faced punishment for his crimes. Now though Randi’s only concern was helping to find Blair. Her friend had been missing and she had been too wrapped up in her own shit to help find her but that was changing today. The confidence and ferocity that pulsed off of the platinum blonde in waves was impossible to miss and for a second Randi truly felt like she would burn down the whole city to find her best friend. Rhys footsteps beside her quelled her emotions though as their steady beat became a rhythm she could focus on in order to sooth her burning soul. “When we get there I’ll head up to Blair’s room and look around for clues. If you could check downstairs for anything that would be great. If someone gives you shit about it I’ll take care of it.” She spoke with an intense level of determination, her drive to find Blair much like that of a bloodhound on the trail of its prey.
As the duo reached the Avalon family mansion Randi reached into the hidden slot behind the left porch light where she knew a key was always hidden and slid it into the door. Turning the tiny golden key until she heard a soft click Randi threw the large front doors open, clearly not caring if her sudden appearance was acceptable or not. In the past Blair’s family hadn’t minded Randi showing up unannounced. Sure Randi might not have the most glamorous background but she had proven herself to be a valuable friend to Blair over the years plus Freight’s weapon shop had provided them with beneficial deals in years past so Randi had built up good graces due to her familial connection to Freight. She might hate his guts right now but at least the murderous bastard could still be useful in this instance. The only member of Blair’s family who had ever openly been an outright tool towards Randi was Blair’s older brother Ajax. For some reason the blonde bastard had it in his head that he could talk down to her and treat her as less simply because she wasn’t from one of the elite Dauntless families. Randi had never really kept her own thoughts of him a secret either which was probably another reason that Ajax hated her but in all honesty she couldn’t care less about his feelings. Stepping into the grand foyer of the mansion Randi nodded towards the west wing of the house and looked at Rhys. “The kitchen and dining room are that way.” The blonde informed him, her tone making it more than clear that she was fully immersed in the mission at the moment. “I honestly have no idea what we are looking for but if something stands out snap a picture of it. We don’t know where Blair is but anything could be a clue and a clue is what we need right now.” Her words were brisk and she glanced at Rhys. He clearly looked a little uneasy about walking around the home of one of the most powerful families in Dauntless. “Hey, we will be fine. I used to barge in here all the time before initiation. If someone catches us I’ll just tell them I’m here because I am worried about Blair and you tagged along to help.” She soothed him and hoped he would find comfort in her plan to be honest about their sudden arrival. It wasn’t really breaking in or anything since years ago Randi had basically received an open invitation to swing by whenever she wanted. “I’ll be just upstairs.” The fiery young woman informed her companion before speeding off to race up the stairway that led to the second floor.
At the top of the steps Randi spotted the door to Blair’s bedroom and was just about to cross the landing when another door opening caught her attention and drew her gaze the other way. Her minty green gaze flashed with anger and annoyance as she locked eyes with the cocky gaze and smug smile of Ajax. “I didn’t know it was trash day.” He smirked and looked Randi up and down. “Shouldn’t you be out at the curb getting ready to be picked up?”
Randi’s brow quirked slightly as she listened to Ajax’s pathetic attempt at an insult and she stepped forward. “Ajax darling, if you mean to offend me at least try to be original. I mean honestly I just feel bad for you. That line must have really hurt since your last two brain cells are currently competing for third place.” She returned with a smirk of her own and the chaotic spark she often carried burning brightly in her eyes.
The fact that someone he deemed lesser spoke to him in such a way didn’t seem to sit well with Ajax as he took a threatening step forward. “The hell are you doing in my house Randi?” He practically growled, clearly not caring for verbal jousting anymore.
Randi did not flinch away in the slightest as Ajax approached but rather stood her ground and squared up to him despite being several inches shorter. “I’m here trying to find anything that might tell me where Blair is. You know, your sister? The missing member of your family.” Randi informed him, not bothering to dance around the reason she had made her way to the Avalon mansion. “Have you heard anything?” She asked him.
Ajax’s next comment would be one he regretted as he told Randi he didn’t give a crap where Blair was. Mor was said after that, more incredibly hateful and hurtful things that Randi would never allow anyone to say about one of her friends. Randi wasn’t even sure what all of it was because the blonde’s vision turned red and before she knew it her fist was flying forward. A perfectly aimed blow connected Randi’s knuckles to Ajax’s nose and she felt a satisfying crunch beneath her hand as his cartilage gave way under the pressure. Instantly Ajax’s hands flew up to his face as blood gushed out of his nostrils like a faucet. “Say that shit about Blair again and I will break something you can’t replace.” Randi practically growled. “And you know I don’t lie.” She pointed out to drive home the fact that she was willing to make her threat a reality. Clearly the stress and anger she had been feeling over the past several days had boiled over in this moment. All her feelings about being a divergent, finding out the truth about Freight, knowing what happened to her parents and Thorn’s mother, seemed to surge forth in the rage she felt towards Ajax and the way he dared to treat and talk about his sister. “You may think you are some prized stallion Ajax but one more word and I swear you’ll become a gelding.”
Aubrey felt a relief in her spirit at Thorn's genuine kindness and chivalry. She wouldn't have minded if he had looked at her while she was vulnerable, she wouldn't have minded if he'd liked what he'd seen and wanted to see more, in fact a part of her would have really liked that. But Thorn had not done any of those things, instead he respectfully admired her tattoo, but turned around for the majority of the time, and he had covered his eyes when she was unfortunately revealed to him. It was embarrassing sure, and it would have been less embarrassing if he hadn't covered his eyes, but at the same time she was suddenly aware again that she would likely be the safest she'd ever been while in Thorn's presence. It reminded her of how it used to feel like when she was with Finn, knowing that he would do no wrong to her and would treat her with love and care. She sipped on her frap as they made their way out of the tattoo parlour and Thorn talked about helping her. The mention of Finn's name and her own thoughts having verged on him made her feel a heaviness in her heart, if Finn were here he would have helped her pick out a tattoo and would have gotten one with her. She missed him. A tightening in her gut caused her to grip her frappucino cup a bit tighter and she stopped drinking it for a moment as it almost felt like cramps. "The train is a great idea. I love riding the train. Let's do that." Aubrey agreed, she waited for her cramps to finish as she walked, and then began to drink again as she did so. Slowly the caffeine began to pour back into her body, and she felt another boost of energy. She was aware that she'd had a good amount of coffee today and therefore was probably overloading on the caffeine, but she also knew that if she wasn't doing that then she would likely become a zombie and a prick. Thorn would not like her in that state she was sure. She'd already passed out on him today and she was more embarrassed from that than from almost flashing him. She was meant to be strong, and yet she was appearing so weak to him. She didn't have the energy to fight that look, the fact was she was so low on energy that just walking to the train station was a struggle, and of course the added pain from the tattoo wasn't helping. She couldn't even raise her arms up to tie her hair, so she kept it down and flowing across her back, it tickling the lower regions of her back and abdomen. She was mostly silent, sipping and sighing ever so softly. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence so much as it was simple, they had nothing to say while they made their way to the trains, and Aubrey felt a shiver go up her spine as they exited the compound. Almost as if on cue, maybe due to the brisk air or maybe due to the caffeine, she began to feel a burst of energy. She began to stretch her arms and dropped her empty drink in a bin, her body feeling jumpy and almost filled with a boost of energy that was likely to be depleted quickly. "This was a great idea." She muttered quietly under her breath, a grin popping on her face for a moment.
The two of them climbed one of the common buildings that gave easy access to the elevated train tracks. Aubrey found that as she used her body for the strenuous actions that she felt much better with each movement. She felt as if the movement itself gave her energy, and if not energy then it certainly gave her joy. No pain, just pleasant physical exhaustion. Her body was lightly sweating as they got up the building, and she only noticed it because of wiping her forehead with the back of her hand, as it came back wet she blinked with curiosity, she wasn't a huge sweater, not from something like climbing a building. She shook it off, this time taking the time to tie her hair up into a pony tail so that it wouldn't get in the way. They had to wait for a train to come pass, but it wasn't long until they heard the familiar chugg of the trains on the track. It wasn't a big train, so they had a smaller window of spaces to jump onto the train, it was about 8 carts long, rather than the normal train which could end up with well over 13. Looking at Thorn with a nod of her head, Aubrey readied her body for a burst of sprinting speed, and as the train got close enough she counted, wanting to aim for halfway. After 2 carriages had passed she began to run, her long legs pulling her across the concrete roof of the building and her feet hitting the ground hard, thankfully in padded sneakers. She could see Thorn running next to her, but couldn't exchange any looks at him, neither could he her. With two large jumps they cleared the edge of the building and the thin but long drop that was between the carriages and the building. From Aubrey's perspective Thorn landed well, and Aubrey would have if she hadn't slipped on the door handle, the sweat on her palms making that difficult to grasp, and she had to clasp onto it with two hands and cinching her elbows. Thorn quickly helped by grabbing her hand and pulling her in. "Thanks." Aubrey said with a grateful touch to the arm and resisting the urge to say she didn't need the help. She knew Thorn well enough at this point to know that when he helped her it wasn't meant to degrade her or imply that she couldn't do things by herself. From most other Men and Dauntless members she would definitely assume that from them. Not Thorn though. Aubrey delayed sitting down on the train, instead she asked Thorn to look out one door, while she looked out the other. She held on tightly as she did so, her eyes squinting slightly from the speed of the train and the wind. She was glad Thorn was on the other side, so he wasn't watching her entirely, and so she felt free to slouch against the frame, holding on tight. Her body shook just slightly, not cold but... feeling something. It was a great vantage point, so good in fact that Aubrey could see the very alleyway that she had spent a night with Finn, the very night she'd learned the truth from Charlie and Ghost, and ruined their lives. The very night Thorn's mother died in the fire. Aubrey stared over the buildings, trying to pinpoint Thorn's house, and easily being able to find it due to the fire damage and burnt structure.
As she stared at it, she turned around, to look at Thorn. Feeling guilty all over again, she fought the urge to ignore him, and eventually she turned around and sat down on his side of the cart, cross legged so her legs stayed within the carriage, and soon enough Thorn also sat down beside her. The two were speechless for a while, and Aubrey felt a mood of grief and sullenness fall over them. She put a hand on Thorn's back and rubbed it softly, before letting it drop back down to the ground. They didn't mention anything to each other, but Aubrey tried to think of something they could say to each other. "The views kind of nice. Even if there's sad things inside it." She finally said. Thorn seemed to get a surprise from her voice, but nodded along to her. Aubrey went back to being silent for a moment. There was a lot of sadness, which was strange for her. Aubrey had grown up with so much joy and fun that she had no idea what it really meant to have this much sadness and grief and pain. She had had such an ideal childhood, minus her dead father, that was why it was so hard to believe Charlie and Ghost when they came out and told her the truth. It was impossible to wrap her head around, even now when she knew it was all true. In hindsight she looked back at moments that now seemed suspicious and figured out what was happening, but it was really very good. The idea of Charlie having been secretly beaten and abused for most of h3er life was so disturbing, because Aubrey new that if it was anyone else beating her, that so many people would rise up and fight whoever it was as if he were some injured dog and was getting put down. She was so certain that she would kill a man for hurting Charlie, but now Aubrey wasn't so sure. Partly because Charlie had hurt her so badly that she wasn't even sure if she forgave her sister yet, and partly because she now feared that failure. The failure that comes when you're trying so hard to do the right thing. That was far too scary for Aubrey. Maybe that would come up in a simulation soon enough. As she continued to stare at the terrain, her mind went to the missing people. Blair was first on her mind after Finn, someone who had been here only a few days ago but had disappeared... It was unnatural. As the train came to a tunnel, Aubrey and Thorn sat back so they wouldn't be in harm of toppling out. As Aubrey pulled her fingers through her hair she looked at Thorn with a thought. "You used to braid your mothers hair, right? Do you think you could braid mine?" She asked, as the train was plunged in darkness from the tunnel.
Briony was thinking about everything that had happened lately. There had been so many deaths and disappearances that she wondered if it would be investigated soon. It’s not like it was completely uncommon for some deaths to happen to runaways; this was dauntless after all where things were more physical or physically demanding. However nothing like this had ever happened before or not that she was aware that there had been too many deaths of people her age. The one of course could have been just a suicide yet with the other deaths surrounding it things were pointing towards murder as well. A sigh left her as the dark thoughts swarmed in her mind, the small dark voice trying to return about no one missing her if she was gone. That her friends were only her friends because of Blair that once Blair was back she would be pushed to the side. Of course this was not true in the slightest bit everyone that was close with Briony was friends with her because of herself not her twin. So she shoved the voice into the back of her mind once more as Phillip made her raise an eyebrow about no one being able to get enough of him.”Oh yeah. I’m pretty sure I’d pick Honey over you any day.”she teased him. Since Briony was afraid of Honey that was saying a lot though Phillip would know she was joking. At the sound of her name Honey had perked up. Briony gripping one of Phillips hands for a moment reached out to scratch one of Honeys ears. It made her breath quicken for a moment yet she knew Honey deserved a bit of affection for being so good. Her hand withdrew a moment later before shaking her head at Phillips' antics.”We will be running circles around you old man. You better look out, maybe I’ll take your job from you since you’re of retiring age.”she said with a laugh. She grinned at his bow.”I’m looking forward to it as well.”she said happily.
“I’m sure he won’t be as grumpy with you? It’s not like he can be buddy buddy with someone like me. Not that I’ve tried he’s not normally someone I’d go for you know.”Briony said amused shrugging a bit. “I wouldn’t say he’s boring but he’s certainly closed off.”she said thinking about what little she knew about Ghost. “Yeah yeah don’t let my comment boost your ego even more if it gets more inflated you might just float away.”she said. Then a small frown graced her lips. “Well we keep losing instructors so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get him back.”she said. She thought of Maverick who was currently missing as well. A pain flickered in her chest thinking about him; she was worried about him as well. However with him she knew the man had a habit of disappearing yet she would think he would have informed her of it. A flicker of sadness filled her thinking about him not telling her he would be gone for a while. She hoped that nothing had happened with him but she knew Maverick was too strong to go down easily. Briony didn’t think much more on the topic of Ghost being fired; it was best to not think about it. She, like Phillip, doubted her father had fired him if he had; she was sure Ghost would have looked at her like scum. It’s not like she could change anything though her family might have power and that afforded her a lot of privileges. However that didn’t mean her opinion on things mattered all that much since she was just a teenager. At least she would soon have a good job, though with her current scores and her family there was no doubt she would be able to get where she wanted in life.
The two of them were soon headed off towards the mall for now it seemed to pick out some clothes and help relieve Briony of stress. She truly appreciated Phillip at times like this since he knew her well and also cared about her. It was nice having someone on her side who she could vent to and trust that this topic would never reach another’s ears. Briony shook her wet hair out some before combing her fingers through it putting it once more into a high ponytail out of the way. It was drying a lot quicker now with them being in direct sunlight. They moved along at a decent pace stopping every now and then for Honey not that either of them minded. Once in the mall she couldn’t help but feel amused seeing how chipper Phillip was. She wondered how someone could be so happy all the time it was nice yet she couldn’t see herself being so joyful. “That sounds good to me.”she said with a grin about picking out outfits. However she stopped seeing a familiar figure, her sharp gaze watching before rushing after them. She didn’t have time to explain knowing Phillip would probably follow after her anyways. The person seemed to be slipping out of sight before her fingers wrapped around his larger wrist. She felt a weird plastic material gaze flicking to it, seeing a hospital bracelet before it was covered once more.”You!”she said in an angry whisper though relief was flooding her like a wave crashing against the shore.”Oh my god I’ve been so worried about you! What did you get into this time?”she asked tone sharp yet full of concern as she looked up to meet his eyes.
One foot in front of the other, dragging worn boots through gravel as he fought the urge to topple forward. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt like this, surely it must’ve been alcohol induced, nothing one of Caspian’s hangover cures couldn’t fix. But this? This was a whole different type of helplessness, one that Maverick didn’t care for. His fingers twitched, his shoulders sagged, and his lungs felt perpetually starved of oxygen. His hospital stay had been brief, as brief as the hospital staff would allow, and he had still received a fair share of warning looks as he sulked out of the place like a shadow, the persistent and monotone beep of his monitor still echoing in his ears, sending a foreboding shiver down his spine.
Maverick had resolved to walk back to the dauntless complex from the hospital, ever convinced that he was, in fact, invincible. There was something distinctly undauntless about being sick… being weak, that made Maverick feel insufficient. He had been brute and brawn his whole life, what good was he to anybody if he could barely stay upright? A sharp intake of breath hissed its way into his lungs as a poignant soreness blossomed deep in his chest. It would’ve been enough to take the wind out of him had he not been so damn stubborn. Breath. He willed himself, another step forward, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one foot-
You. Maverick felt a harsh grip on his wrist as if he had been caught shoplifting candy from the corner store, instinctively flinching his features into a sheepish grin as he turned to face his disciplinary. Blair? He shut his eyes tight, opening them moments after as if he was checking his own vision. No, not Blair, Briony… an easy mistake. Sun kissed hair and eyes the color of peacock feathers stared back at him with an angry glare, her hushed whisper almost brought a smile to his lips. He tilted his head, feigning the look of a scolded puppy as he chewed his lower lip. “Relax Bri… you should see the other guy.” He winked, a weak display at best as he gently pulled his wrist from her grasp.
Within a few seconds, Maverick had snapped the cheap plastic bracelet off, tossing it towards Briony as if to show he had nothing to hide. It took an unsettling amount of effort on his part. “Besides, the beds there are much more comfortable than Ghost’s couch.” The instructor's eyes flicked towards the mop of dark brown hair that stood next to Briony, Phillip Parks. Maverick stiffened just a bit, it was one thing for an initiate to see him like this, but another thing entirely for someone his own age… someone from such a powerful family in dauntless. He bristled a bit, willing himself to stand up straighter. “I didn’t interrupt your date, did I?” Maverick grinned, hoping the comment would move the attention away from him as the pair began to deny any romantic involvement with each other. “Relax, your secret’s safe with me.” he teased.
As the world continued to spin around him, Maverick became increasingly more withdrawn from it. His head was back at the hospital, where a plethora of doctors had poked and prodded at him until they came up with some big words that sounded like gibberish to him. Cardiac Amyloidisis… a degenerative heart defect that made it harder and harder for his heart to pump blood. It was easy to miss, and hard to fix… if fixing it was even possible. The prognosis was glim, equally as glim as it had been for his brother. It was cathartic in a way, to know that him and Caspian would share their final battle, even if they weren’t fighting it together. There had been a lot of talk about experimental treatment options and ‘not losing hope’ but Maverick was well versed in words of comfort. Familiar enough with bad news to know when someone was trying to disguise it.
He almost didn’t notice that Briony and Phillip were speaking to him, roping him back into the conversation. “Hm? Yea….” What had they said? Something about clothes? Were they inviting him to come shopping with them? He looked down sheepishly at the boots he was wearing, the soles so thin by now that Maverick might as well have been wearing slippers. “I uh… “ he swallowed thickly, hoping his blatant lack of attention would pass unnoticed “ya… sure.” He nodded, falling into line behind the pair.
Blair Avalon // 17 // Dauntless Born // Initiate // Divergent
Interacting With: Aubrey Nerdy.
and Thorn Sanctuaryforall1
Heartbreak was still and slow. It dragged its feet and took its sweet time unfolding itself, disclosing its bitter secrets like poison hidden in wine. Fear? Fear was easy. Fear was finite and easily swallowed. But loneliness coated her throat, it drowned her, pulling her deeper and deeper into a grave she had clawed into the dirt for herself. It sat in her stomach like a stone, and everything felt irrevocably dimmed. The world around her moved sluggishly, sounds muted, colors dulled. Blair had always loved the dauntless world, the way the lights glimmered against the stone walls, the sound of the river collapsing into itself in pure, reckless freedom. She had never been a strong swimmer, could barely keep her head above the water, but for the longest time something about this river had made her feel safe.
The realization stung like vinegar in an open wound now, ripping the air from her lungs as the memory washed over her. She fought it, struggled to push it back to the depths from which it had crawled into her consciousness, but his strong arms wrapped around her, lulling her into her memories. Flashes of golden hair, a familiar voice calling her name, the chill of the water replaced by the warmth from his body as he dragged her towards shore. Blair’s stomach churned even at the thought of his name, and she choked back a whimper as those chaotically beautiful eyes stared back at her through her memories. The day Indira had pushed her into the water… the day Christian had pulled her out. Her first love had saved her in more ways than one, and she had fought for him with everything in her, but this was not a matter of strength or conviction.
She chewed the inside of her cheek as the wind whipped her hair out of her face. The river was just like it had been that day…the day Christian had made her feel so safe. The rapids surged angrily around sharp rocks and bends in the path, the water was dark and perhaps colder today than it had been then. She almost didn’t notice the way her body swayed towards the edge, teetering on the precipice of the shore… another step and she could just disappear, another step and she could stop fighting the current. It wasn’t until the sound of a passing train plagued her ears that she took a reluctant step back, a cold shiver snaking down her spine as she was pulled back into reality. She wiped a stray tear from her cheek with the back of her sleeve, swallowing hard and turning her back on whatever comfort the river afforded her now.
It had been days since Blair had seen anyone other than Dr. Munro, she had become accustomed to solitude. Her mind was quieter now since the treatment, a cocktail of serums and injections purported to burn away her problems, and for once in Blair’s life, she felt like she was in control. Her divergency had cost her everything, her safety, her sanity…. Christian. The pain was a dull ache now, but it lingered, ever present, constantly reminding her that he wasn’t there. Regardless of how many times she retraced her steps, she couldn’t figure out at what point she had lost him… truly lost him. She had kept things from him, thinking that she was protecting him, knowing that she wasn’t good for him. She wasn’t good for anybody… not as long as she was divergent. But Dr. Munro had fixed all that, she could go back now, start over, try to pick up the pieces and salvage whatever was left of her old life, or at least try.
Blair wasn’t really sure where she was going, only that her feet were moving and her brain didn’t feel like it was shattering into a million pieces anymore. Objects around her had stopped moving on their own, and no matter how her emotions raged it seemed the rules of physics had resumed their rightful place. Whatever had been wrong with her, that searing pain that made glass splinter, it was gone. Her mind felt almost… normal, or at least as normal as it had been before her aptitude test. Her heart? That was another story, one not so easily remedied with serums and treatments. Not even Dr. Munro would be able to fix that. Still, she trudged forward, wondering what the hell she was supposed to do now.
As she drew closer and closer towards civilization, Blair realized she must’ve looked like absolute shit. Strangers passing by craned their necks to get a better look of her, their stares lingering, was she even alive? A walking corpse, pale and bruised, her turquoise eyes devoid of any signs of life, she was simply existing, a spectacle in a busy train station for people to wonder about. Would anyone notice if she didn’t come back? As if answering her question, two familiar faces made their way out of the arriving train. The long, blonde braid of Aubrey Stark bobbed back and forth as the girl chatted with the freckled Thorn beside her. They were both enthralled in their conversation and Blair began to wonder if they would even recognize her. But Aubrey’s gaze landed on her, and before she could object, arms were wrapped tightly around her.
Where had she been? What had she been doing? Was she okay? The cascade of questions from both of them nearly had her head spinning, and Blair found herself fabricating a story about an illness, a doctor in erudite who had treated her, and how she was feeling much better now… honestly. When they were finished exchanging hugs, Blair finally let her gaze settle on Aubrey, the other girl looked back at her with something that almost resembled pity, but she couldn’t be sure. The trio stood there, collectively enjoying each other's presence until Blair finally broke the pleasant silence. It looked like Aubrey knew what Blair was about to ask before she ever even asked it, but Blair asked anyway. “Is he… Is he okay?” The slightest quiver shook her voice, she couldn’t bring herself to say his name, but she didn’t need to, Aubrey knew who she was asking about.
Leafy green eyes followed the duo as they scaled the wall before her in their race to see who would reach the top first. Bloom found she was less than surprised when Ghost got a little physical by pushing Cas at the start of the race. The push wasn’t enough to cause any real danger, just a nudge to unbalance her so he could get the upper hand. Despite his efforts though it did not take long for the initiate to catch up to him once she reached the wall. Cas had released a burst of speed in the beginning but found her pace once she had closed the distance between Ghost and herself. At first Bloom had expected she would continue to overtake Ghost but instead the dark haired transfer took her time to stop and chat. A semi-amused smirk tugged at the corner of Bloom’s lips when she imagined how such a move must have made Ghost feel. Would he be offended? Would he use the cocky move as motivation? Would he take time to chat back? That last question wasn’t really something Bloom had to wonder about for long because knowing Ghost he always had something to say. In her experience he was very much a fan of getting the final word in a conversation. It was no more than a few heartbeats later that Cas fully over took Ghost on the wall, her limbs moving in swift clearly calculated movements to find the optimal grips. Bloom’s heart stopped for a moment though when Cas jumped and seemed to struggle, the young woman’s limbs flailing for a few heartbeats before finally managing to find holds. Cas had reached the top first though the competition had been close at several points. Clearly Ghost had more experience climbing than he let on though by the style he displayed the climbing he did was less structured. There was a difference between wall climbing and free climbing, Bloom being familiar with both. While she watched the duo begin to descend the wall she noticed that Cas also displayed a few tells of having familiarity with free climbing. It wasn’t totally uncommon, especially when they all currently resided in Dauntless, but it was curious to a certain degree.
“Are you alright?” Bloom asked as Ghost seemed to lose his balance when stepping off the wall. The brunette raced over to him but by the time she was at his side the young man had already recovered though he was clearly favoring his opposite knee. Once they had both unclipped from their harnesses Bloom waved her hand towards Cas. “As the totally official ref for this match I will now declare Cassidy our winner for today.” She announced to the two of them with a playful smile pulling at her lips. “You both did incredible though.” She added with a nod. “I honestly worried for a second there that Cas would be joining me on the ground far sooner than any of us expected.” She admitted in reference to the struggle the young woman had encountered towards the end of her climb. “I am relieved you had a harness on and that recovery was impressive to say the least.” The older female praised, her voice genuine and the feeling shining through her gaze. Her eyes shifted towards Ghost a moment later and she took a few steps closer to him so she could get a good look at how he was holding up. “I liked that hooking move you did with your leg.” The compliment came easily as she was genuinely impressed by how well he handled himself on the walls. “You have impressive instincts for this sort of stuff, maybe I should bring you by here more often?” Bloom suggested knowing she would also insist on trying to bring Charlie along as well.
When the conversation turned to Bloom going for a climb almost every muscle in her body began to scream for a chance to show what she could do. She loved to climb, she had ever since she was a small child. Growing up in Amity she had lived many of her early years free scaling old farm buildings and scurrying up trees. She was a natural at finding even the most narrow of holds to grip onto and had excellent balance for holding her weight and contorting her body at all angles of the wall. She looked towards Cas with a competitive glint in her gaze and smiled, “Next time you and I can compete for sure.” Her shoulders rose in a slight shrug as she added, “It gives you an excuse to find your way back here.”
Upon hearing Ghost’s words the instructor turned to face her former co-worker, one of her brows arched in sarcastic surprise. “So me scaling the outside of a bar wasn’t enough to convince you?” She inquired as she remembered back to their little game of truth or dare they had played during the compound wide party day a few weeks back. A sweet chuckle escaped from within her as she shook her head and looked around. “If you are really interested I can show you the wall I’ve been working on?” She offered him. “But I would hate to bore you if you would prefer to keep climbing.” She added knowing that the wall she had been climbing as of late was graded a 5.13d. “If you are tired though we can grab you both waters and you two can relax for a bit while I climb?” Bloom offered as she genuinely wanted to make sure those accompanying her were getting the best experience they could since it was their first time at this climbing gym.
Cassidy "Cas" Wickham || 16 || Initiate || Erudite Transfer
As the trio talked and continued socializing, Cassidy found herself checking the time more frequently, and an itch started to form within her. It was getting later, and she knew that she needed to get Griffon before going out tonight, what they were going to do was very dangerous, and Cassidy needed more time to prepare. She probably shouldn't have come out to do rock climbing in general, but truth be told she had enjoyed it. She started responding less to Ghost and Bloom as they spoke, only smiling and nodding when necessary, allowing her mind to prioritize the plans she needed to make, the back ups she needed to have, and even the conversation she was going to have with Griffon. She knew this plan was stupid at its core, it was foolish and dangerous, yet she couldn't deny her brother's wishes. Griffon was everything for Cas, and for someone who was plainly selfish, that was saying a lot. If Griffon needed anything, Cassidy would give it to him, because he had literally given everything for her. Everything she had in life was due to him, her skills were because of him, her wit was nurtured because of him, her confidence was because of him, her very life was because of him. Thus, he deserved everything. Nobody else even stood a chance, Cassidy knew she would happily let anyone and everyone down if it meant she would do what Griffon needed. Thankfully, Griffon was the most selfless person she knew, and he was happy to let her live her selfish life, it didn't hurt him or bother him at all, and he liked her being happy. She felt no guilt in that way. No, Cassidy was not one to feel guilt. Dark eyes watched as Ghost and Bloom interacted, and she noted how they verbally danced around each other, and how their physical body language also had such strong implications that they liked each other. Now to what end, that was something she would have to figure out. One could easily guess romantic tension, and Cassidy would put money that it was there, but if that was the entirety of it she would doubt very much. There was something richer there, some common denominator that seemed to make them so comfortable with each other, when it seemed (from Cassidy's knowledge) that they'd really only started working together and knowing each other when Bloom came in as trainer. Maybe she was wrong, but they definitely hadn't seemed so chummy back then, and had an element of strangeness towards each other. As they spoke, she found herself smiling, they were still trying to get to know each other, digging deeper and trying to uncover what was underneath. Maybe that was why she liked Ghost so much. Cassidy had no issues with Bloom and liked her fine enough, but Bloom was kind and gentle, whereas Ghost was not, not as a rule anyway. Kind and gentle were lovely things, in fact that's what made Griffon the best person, but it didn't usually garner the greatest of respect. Now Cas had an inkling that Bloom likely was more than a pretty and kind face, unlike Charlie the medic, but still, in this particular duo, Ghost was the one Cassidy was interested in. He seemed like someone who could make fast judgements and reactions to go with them, it felt like he would see more than he let on, and used his words to create and solve mysteries. Ghost was someone to whom Cassidy would happily spend time with in order to have fun. Sort of like Randi.
The thought of the fiery young woman caused Cassidy to look at her phone again, almost hoping for a message from her friend. Yet there was none, and in fact there were no messages. But what she did see again was the time, and she compressed her lips in frustration. It was taking a long time to hang out with these two, and she didn't have the time anymore. She needed to find a good way of leaving. Thankfully, Bloom was about to start her climb. "You should absolutely have a climb, I know that I'm interested in your technique and skills." Cassidy said, having not spoken for a little bit but now piping up to get things moving. Ghost must have agreed, and the two grabbed themselves some water and then moved over to a spot where they could happily see Bloom and where she was climbing. Cassidy stayed for most of the climb, she hardly touched her water and instead she tapped her fingers methodically on the plastic covering, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4. A nervous tick she hadn't quite got rid of. Ghost must have noticed, as he said something, asking maybe if she were okay, or whether there was something on her mind, even though her eyes were on Bloom. Cassidy stayed silent for a moment, not wanting to say anything that would hint at what she was going to do later. "Are you watching me more closely than Bloom Ghost? I'm sure she'll be shocked." Cas replied, a coy smile and a raised eyebrow following her sentence, letting her eyes wash over him before returning to watching Bloom. She was waiting for Bloom to reach halfway, so that she would be able to leave at a good time. Bloom was almost there, which was impressive, given the difficulty level of the wall and the height. She was aware that Ghost would pick up on the fact that she hadn't answered any question he asked of her, instead she was deflecting. She chided herself inwardly for this, frustrated that she wasn't acting fast enough to answer his questions. But although she was a wonderful liar, she genuinely hated it, and always tried and strived to answer questions honestly, but in deceptive ways. As Bloom finally hit halfway she stood up, and looked over at Ghost. "Please give Bloom my apologies, I am afraid I have to go. It was great fun competing against you and I look forward to doing it again." She said, giving a little mock bow in way of showing her enjoyment of the whole thing. She then proceeded to walk back to the changing rooms, and unfortunately for her it was not empty, in fact there were a good amount of people in there getting changed. Not the place for taking drugs. She thought to herself as she continued to hold the water bottle and decided she'd have to take it somewhere else. So she used the changing room for its design and purpose, and simply got dressed. She was grateful her climb had not resulted in injury or great duress, as she was not sweating and had no injury to now have to deal with, instead she was feeling rather warmed up and felt like she was in the perfect physical state to do what would be necessary later. She should have brought Griffon with, so that he also would be in the same condition.
She exited the bathroom and made a beeline for the door, having left the extra clothes in the bathroom with everyone elses stuff that was getting dressed. She didn't look back to see where Ghost and Bloom were, knowing that in all likelihood she would catch eyes with them and either they or her would feel compelled to say something and she would be delayed longer. She was not wanting to make this next part of the day any longer or more complicated or later than it would be already. Pulling out her phone as she exited the building, she opened Griffon's details and called him. It took a few rings for him to answer, and when he did she could hear a buzz of sounds around him. "Griffon! Hey, where are you?" She asked, her voice having a chipper and happy sound to it as she walked, her eyes scanning the area for an appropriate place to fill her bottle with the substance she needed to take. Griffon replied that he was out for dinner with Aya. "OOh, put me on speaker!" She said, hearing as Griffon fiddled with the phone and then said she was. "Hi Aya! On a date with Griffon are you? How cute. Now I'm terribly sorry to interrupt but I might have to steal Griffon for the rest of the night, at least for a couple hours." She said, listening as Aya said hello and seemed to be fine with what Cassie had said. Although, she could hear a bit of concern. "I should have texted a reminder to Griffon, I thought I put one on his phone, we have something like a brother sister date ourselves tonight. You okay to do that now Griffon?" She said, hearing the confusion in Griffon's voice as he apologized about not remembering, and she felt a stab of pain as she knew she had somewhat tricked him by making him think he'd forgotten something like that. "It's fine Griff. Just... meet me in the dorms in the next 15 minutes or half an hour at the most, I don't want it to get to dark. It gets too cold for a nice stroll when its dark." She said. She waited for Griffon to say yes, then smiled to make her voice cheery. "See you two there! Sorry again Aya for stealing your date. Maybe we can have one altogether another time." She said, hearing Aya say it was no problem and that they'd be done soon. Cas said her goodbyes and hung up the phone. She hadn't wanted to mention to anyone that she and Griffon were going out tonight, the more people who knew, the worse. If things went sideways she didn't want anyone getting hurt or suspicious. But she couldn't do anything about it now. Aya would be only slightly suspicious, but in the end she knew that Griffon wouldn't be, and Aya would likely be calmed down by that. Griffon would think he genuinely forgot a brother-sister date, and Aya would believe that. It wasn't completely false either, Griffon probably had forgotten they were going out to do their thing tonight, and so she hoped she had reminded him through her coy words. As she finally found a rather sheltered area on her way back to the dorm, she gave a quick scan of her environment before opening her water bottle and within a few seconds, likely imperceivably by anyone who wasn't watching very very closely, she poured her lull into the water bottle. Closing the lid and mixing it gently, she then opened it and with one very long sip she downed the whole thing. Scrunching her nose up as she did so, more from the fact of having drunk the water so quickly than the taste or feel of the lull. Immediately she shivered as she felt it wash through her system. She had found that taking it through water was less painful to her body, and although techniquelywas less productive it wouldn't make too much of a difference for tonight. In fact she was simply taking it to boost her strength. She would need a lot of strength for tonight. She blinked as the world seemed slightly brighter in color than before, and after a quick stretch of her arms she began to continue her walk back to the dorms.
Chris’s question about her family genuinely surprised her as they strolled down the streets of Dauntless, their feet naturally carrying them towards the training center. Not many people had asked her about her family and Fable preferred it that way due to her history with them. She hesitated for a moment as she gathered herself and quietly reminded herself how willingly Chris was sharing with her and how much she didn’t want her parents to control her life even now. She would not shy away from talking about them out of respect for Chris and her own personal need to be strong enough to discuss the vial beings known as her parents. “Yeah, I was.” Her voice surprised her when she heard how together she sounded, perhaps she truly was healing. Her eyes widened a bit when she heard how many siblings Chris had. “I knew you had more than just Phillip but I hadn’t realized how many of you there are running around this compound.” She blurted with a slight chuckle laced into her words as she looked up towards Chris. “Six? Family dinners must have been fun.” She mused playfully and did her best to read his expression, the last thing she wanted was to accidentally offend him by accident or say something carelessly. “It must have been nice.” She added as she noticed how fondly Chris seemed to think of his family, a vast difference from her perspective of her own kin.
When Chris’s next question escaped his lips Fable almost stopped walking but managed to keep lifting one foot after the other. Had she ever wanted siblings before Griffon? “Griffon becoming my brother is the best thing to ever happen to me.” She replied without hesitation as she knew in her heart it was the absolute truth. Having Griffon around gave her the strength and support she needed to keep going, even when the pain was hidden to make life easier for the young man. He had wanted so badly to save her and protect her which meant the world to Fable even when the hurt continued because she had him to make her smile. “Before that though…” She paused as she thought about it. Before Griffon she couldn’t remember ever really wishing for another sibling because she wouldn’t have wanted them to live through what she had. Most days she hadn’t wanted to have been born herself so the last thing she would have wanted was another child left under the abusive watch of her parents. She had found the strength to get up and fight for herself, she had found the strength to leave, Fable didn’t know if she would have been able to do that had she had a sibling to worry about as well. It was different with Griffon because he was her age, he understood, he stood with her and could leave with her, a younger sibling never would have been able to do that. “No, I don’t think I ever really wanted a younger sibling…or that I ever really thought about it.” She answered after several heartbeats.
Once they reached the training center Chris informed her he needed a drink and Fable nodded as she headed towards the mat. In preparation for their sparring session the flame haired young woman removed the black jacket she had been wearing but kept her long sleeved black shirt on. Some girls might choose to work out in just a sports bra to cover their top but Fable didn’t have that luxury. There were still things about her past that she wasn’t totally ready to embrace and several of those things were permanently etched across her back and shoulders. Folding her jacket neatly and placing it beside the wall multi-colored eyes glanced up to see the towering blonde form of Chris making his way back over to her. Something seemed different about the way he walked, the way he carried himself, even the look in his eyes. It seemed as though those stormy blue-gray depths were both unfocused and highly alert, his pupils shrinking and expanding as though overly sensitive to the lights of the room. It didn’t take too long for her to piece together what might have happened but she didn’t question Chris about it, not yet. If she had been planning to she would have instantly been stopped by the sudden removal of his shirt. Instantly her eyes were drawn to the well defined muscles that were visible all across his arms, chest, and abs. She could feel her face growing hot and knew she must be blushing and before she could hide the red flush of her cheeks Chris spoke up. “No no, you’re fine.” She informed him a bit quicker than she normally would have had he not been shirtless. Clearing her throat to pull herself together she approached him as the blonde began to do his pre-sparring routine. He was quick to offer to show her his routine and Fable wasn’t about to refuse as she likely could learn something plus she didn’t absolutely hate the idea of a shirtless Chris being so close to her. Pull yourself together! Part of her snapped but she didn’t say anything to dissuade Chris as he showed her what to do, his hand occasionally reaching out to adjust her form. “Thanks…” She breathed and realized how her voice sounded. “I mean thank you for showing me your routine.” She clarified as they finished up and began to prepare for a sparring session. Looking around Fable considered working with weapons for a moment but knew that at the end of the day she probably needed more practice in basic hand to hand combat. “Let’s do hand to hand.” She replied. “Maybe we could do weapons during our next session?” She added, hoping it would be a clear message that she wanted to continue meeting up like this.
Griffon || 18 17 || Initiate || Abnegation Transfer
They hadn't been in the diner long, eventually Aya had helped Griffon pick a simple cheeseburger and had convinced him to try soda. Given that he'd never tried this "coke" stuff, he gave it a try. "I like it! Although... Is it always this... spicy?" He asked, trying to think of the correct word to use for the sparkling nature. Aya laughed, and informed him that it was usually referred to as fizz, or soda. "It's such a strange taste, sort of cinammony... I like it." He repeated, sipping a bit more from the plastic straw before putting it down and staring at the cheeseburger. He was not so comfortable with eating something like this, as he saw that it was food that was meant for his hands, but it was also clearly greasy. But, he wanted to have fun with Aya and enjoy and try the experiences that Dauntless gave him. So he picked it up, only cringing slightly from the way it sagged in his hands, and brought it to his lips to take a bite. Nodding in happy approval he easily began to eat more, till the whole thing was nearly gone. "You are so good at picking food Aya, I hope you can do this with me more often." He said with a happy smile. It was at this point that his phone began to buzz, and he looked down at it, noticing the title was Cas. As if the phone call itself restored his memory, he remembered that they had talked about meeting up today. He wasn't quite at the point where he could remember what for, but he knew it was important. Looking at Aya he showed her the phone, "It's Cas, is it all good if I answer?" He asked politely, getting an enthusiastic nod from Aya. Pressing the green button that was still vibrating and singing out some unknown tune, he lifted the phone to his ear. "Hi Cassidy." He said with his eyes still looking at Aya. As she asked where he was he looked around, not having forgotten his surroundings but hoping to gather more information for if she needed more. "I'm... at a diner with Aya, we watched a movie and then got some food afterwards." He said. As Cas heard this he could hear the wide grin even through the speaker of his phone, and as she asked to be put on speaker he did so with just minimal clumsiness, and placed the phone on the table for them both to be able to hear and speak. Cas calling what they'd gone on today a date made the two of them blush, and Griffon felt his hands go to cover his cheek in embarrassment, and he took a long sip from his coke to try and hide that. But as Cassidy went on, Griffon suddenly realised that this must have been what his mind was trying to remind him off, a sister-brother date with Cassidy. "Oh I'm so sorry Cas, and Aya... I must have totally forgotten!" He said, genuine concern and sadness coming through his voice as he scanned his failing memory for any more information. The only things he got back were a definite memory of planning to see Cas later, but other than that he was... Griffon suddenly had a thought. Was... Was Cas referring to their plan to meet with their parents? Realization dawned on him as he tried to figure out whether that would fit in with what she was saying. It sounded accurate, and it would make sense. Either way, he was ashamed he had forgotten it when it had been on his mind all day. As his eyes washed over Aya's petite and beautiful frame he realized that it was entirely because of how much he had enjoyed spending time with Aya. She was so distracting in all the best ways, that he had totally forgotten the entire thing, and now he was struggling with the specifics. "Of course I... we will make our way to the dorms. See you soon." He said, saying both singular and plural so Aya knew she could come with if she wanted. After Cas hung up he made sure to tuck his phone back into his vest pocket and looked back at Aya happily. "Thank you so much for taking me all these places today, I've really enjoyed it all and I'd love to do it all again. Would you like to walk back to the dorms with me? I admit I'd feel more comfortable walking with you, and Cas sounded happy thinking of seeing you." He asked.
As they finished their food and drink faster than they might have if Cassidy hadn't run, Griffon and Aya made their way back to the dorms. They moved faster than they might have, but it was still enjoyable, and they chatted about many things, mostly unimportant and just to fill the air with the pleasant sound of their voices. At one point they stopped speaking and yet it was not awkward, instead it felt nice. Griffon had considered offering to walk arm in arm with Aya, or even holding her hand, but he opted with just walking beside her. They had a reasonable height difference, and he felt very happily protective whilst walking right next to her. As they got to the dorms, Cassidy was surprisingly not waiting outside, but instead she was waiting inside, lying on the bunk that she shared with Griffon. As they walked in, before they could say a word, Cassidy popped her head up from reading the book she was reading and jumped down quite gracefully from the bed. "You look happy." Griffon said with joy as he gave his sister a hug. His touch was firm but gentle, and Cas squeezed him back in return. She pointed to his bunk, the bottom one, and told him she'd gotten him out some matching clothes, to go with her black attire. Griffon hesitated before thanking her, as he was not a fan of wearing black clothes, but he could see that she really wanted him to, so he didn't want to disappoint her. "Okay, thanks Cas, I'll go get dressed now." He nodded to both Aya and Cas, before gathering his clothes and heading to the bathroom for some small amount of privacy while getting dressed. The outfit that Cas picked for him was predominantly black, it consisted of a t-shirt (which he hated), a black jacket that was warm and yet flexible, some black cargo pants and some black sneakers. As he looked in the mirror he immediately felt uncomfortable, like he wasn't himself in a way, but he knew there must be a good reason she was making him wear this. Holding his old clothes in his arms he walked back out, placing them neatly on his bed to be dealt with later. Cas and Aya were talking and both commented on his look. Running a shy hand through his hair he chuckled nervously. "Not really my style though..." He said. Within the next minute Cas said goodbye to Aya and began to walk out, Griffon went over to Aya and reached out a hand to touch her gently on the arm. "Thanks again. I'll see you tomorrow, if not earlier." He said, then followed Cassidy. As they made their way through Dauntless compound he kept up with her, she was walking quickly. "Cas, what date are we having tonight? I... I'm not sure I remember planning anything except... is this..." He trailed off as Cassidy held up a finger, motioning for him to hush. He took that as a yes, and closed his mouth. Even though Cas was acting strangely, almost cold, he felt an amazing amount of warmth he always felt when he was with her, and he felt his protective nature come on again, like they had when he was walking with Aya. If anyone had tried to lay a finger on Cas while they were walking, Griffon would have stepped in strongly. But no such thing happened, in fact they went through the compound in a strange zig zag, round about fashion, eventually nearing the exit. As they neared the exit Cas took a swing turn and pulled Griffon into a slightly quartered off area that wasn't easily viewable but also wasn't entirely private. Then she began to sign to him, very quickly. Griffon knew it was serious when she began to sign, as he knew that she was very concerned about someone listening in. He stayed silent, watching her hands and understanding what she was saying. They were going to meet with their parents, according to Griffon's wishes, but Cassidy had a few plans that must happen so that they were safe. Firstly, she wanted them to swap bodies. Griffon waved his hands to signal his confusion. "What do you mean swap bodies? I want to meet them! I don't just want to watch." He signed back. Cassidy, obviously frustrated and concerned, simply stood there for a few seconds as she formulated her next thought. Griffon watched as she began to sign again. Fine, Griffon could be the one to meet them, but he would do it in Cassidy's body. She explained that if their parents only believed one child was alive then they were more safe, and would have an advantage. And them knowing Cassidy was alive would work better in their favour, because she would have a better time avoiding them and keeping safe. Plus, Griffon looked very different to what he looked like as a child, so its possible they would never figure out who he was if he never told them, whereas Cassidy retained many of the physical similarities she had as a child. Next, Cassidy informed Griffon that she would use his body to watch over him, and that at any point it was dangerous she would snap back, and they might have to go separate ways for a while if things get dangerous. Lastly she told him that there were others watching, but it was unlikely that they would intefere during the transaction, but might interact afterwards. So to not be scared if someone approaches him like they know him.
After saying all of these things, Cassidy pulled Griffon into a hug and whispered in his ear. She told him she loved him, and that if anything happens she wants him to tell nobody unless he trusts them with her life. Griffon nodded, then he felt that familiar surge as Cassidy used her ability, and he felt himself pulled into her.
Griffon's body always felt strange, but so comforting. Immediately the lack of pain was the part that she loved the most, and she couldn't help but enjoy the hug a bit longer than she needed. But soon they stepped back to look at each other. Cas couldn't help but appreciate her own body as she did so, but knew this wasn't the time for vanity. "Oh, don't tell them where we are, say we are factionless or say any faction but Dauntless or Erudite. Say I... or rather you, Griffon, are dead. Okay? and don't let mum touch you." She said, watching as Griffon in her body nodded his head. She knew he would remember, as although he had the memory problems, while they were swapped in body he wouldn't struggle with memory until he swapped back. Whereas she had to fight hard to do the opposite. Because Griffon's body had had so many accidents and surgeries, his brain struggled with formulating new memories, and had blocked off old ones. But when Cassidy was within it she only had to deal with the formulating new memories part. Usually she wasn't in it long enough for that to be a problem anyway. As she went to leave, Griffon grabbed her hand, and asked where he was meant to go. "Walk all the way through Dauntless, following the road. I'll walk with you until we reach the outskirts of the factionless area. At that point, you just walk on until you see a dead bird, then you know that's where you're meant to stay. I'll be above." She said, trying to make him feel better. Griffon nodded, and the two moved on out of Dauntless at a good pace. The night was just starting, and it felt like it was a good decision to bring coats, as the brisk air picked up just a little. Cassidy and Griffon walked closely, but not too close, almost as if they could maybe be individuals not walking together. It didn't take too long to walk through Dauntless, and then they were on the outskirts of the factionless area, as the place turned to crap and the buildings were clearly uninhabited or inhabited by stragglers and factionless. At this point Cas just disappeared, even when Griffon wasn't looking, not wanting him to know where she was because he could accidentally give away her location. She scaled a building a few blocks away just to be safe, and from that building she made her way over the building tops, happy that there was a cloud cover coming over so that she was blending in to the dark rooftops. Finally she was able to get to the vantage point she had wanted when she'd organised this spot. Settling in to her position, she watched as Griffon, or rather Cassidy's body, walked into the alleyway, saw the dead bird, and stayed put obediently. For a good while nothing happened, no noises, no people. nothing. But as if teleporting out of nowhere, out of the dark stepped the two figures Cassidy never wished to see again, anger boiling within her.
Ghost // Male // Age 18 // Officially Unemployed // Erudite to Dauntless
Ghost was direly in need of water. His tongue felt as dry as sandpaper, and if he pushed off the wall against which he was leaning, his legs would have been shaking from exertion. However, when Bloom bestowed such a specific compliment on him, her eyes alight with a childlike candor, he was glad that he hadn’t been drinking at the time. His throat coughed up a knot of breathy, startled laughter that caused both his companions’ gazes to shift toward him. Ghost felt a blaze of warmth in his cheeks and knew he must be flushing ten shades of crimson. “Well, I mean,” he started self-consciously, aware that it was too late to retract his depraved train of thought now that he had Bloom and Cassidy’s attention. He cleared his throat suspensefully before delivering his quip. “If you like that leg move, Vernal darling, you should see me when I’m actually trying. I have about twenty other leg moves that I’m dying to experiment with once I find a willing partner.” He wore a wide, impish smile, the sort that caused a dimple to appear in one cheek but not the other.
Unbeknownst to either girl, there was an element of rueful chagrin in that smile, because Ghost was absolutely positive such a dirty joke would never have occurred to him if not for the misfortune of Charlie blue-balling him last night. Dear God, did all teenage guys with girlfriends live in such an acute, never-ending state of hypersexuality? Until the start of this year’s initiation, Ghost’s love life had been absolutely nonexistent. Zero. Zilch. Nada. He’d been minimally curious about dating and romantic relationships and all the physical stuff that accompanied them. But like the fairy-tale kiss that had the power to transform a frog into a prince, a switch had been flipped the night of the Visiting Day party, when Ghost and Charlie had exchanged a drunken kiss in the LED-rainbow afterglow of a nightclub. At least, Ghost had been drunk after doing double double-shots of Hendricks with Caspian. Which Caspian had had to talk him into, because Ghost had been convinced that he didn’t like alcohol before then. Daaaaammn, had orphaned Erudite rich-boy-turned-thug been wrong as all hell, a fact that Bloom had exploited for the best when she and Ghost had gotten hammered over a game of truth or dare.
His wisecrack appeared to have been met with mixed reviews. Bloom’s eyes screwed up in her head and her lips pressed together in a line that lifted her cheeks ever so slightly. Ghost got the impression that her reluctant humor at the joke took a backseat to her opinion of him rapidly re-evaluating. He truly had no idea whether Bloom’s re-evaluations were for the better or worse. After all, his quip had been at mostly her expense, and likely Bloom’s sense of professionalism compelled her not to endorse such lewdness with laughter in the presence of an initiate. Cassidy, on the other hand, was less inhibited in her expression of mirth. She giggled with one delicate hand over her mouth, as if aware of the impropriety of her reaction but knowingly persisting in it despite that awareness. Just a few minutes ago, Ghost had been annoyed at Cassidy for lording her victory over him on the rockwall before she’d even claimed it. But now, all he could think was how surprisingly… cute… her laugh was. And how he wanted to make her do it again. Preferably with some of Cassidy’s drugs present, whatever they were. And hell, maybe Charlie could get in on the action too. Ey… EY! Stop right there, you shameless bastard. Before it becomes impossible to hide, remonstrated the voice of reason in Ghost’s head. The second voice that spoke to him was the cautious voice, the little prickling on the back of Ghost’s neck when he intended to break into a room without knowing what was on the other side. It reminded him that these were his thoughts when he was sober. And that was not a good thing, because the insanity would only increase from here as soon as he lit up.
Ghost was scarcely aware of the two girls’ ongoing conversation in reality while he’d been low-key fantasizing about one of them in his head. At least it wasn’t both of them, piped up the voice of optimism. Ghost decided he liked this voice most, because it validated his morally questionable behaviors by saying that they could have been worse. And its contributions amused him. He forced a quick smile and nodded at something that Bloom said, as if he’d been paying attention to what was being said all this time. “No, you go ahead and climb for a while, Bloom. I dunno about Cassidy, but I need a breather.” His gaze jumped to Cassidy upon mentioning her name, and a tingle of warmth pulsed through him when she returned the look. The warmth quickly gave way to nerves, and Ghost sheepishly looked away before Cassidy gleaned too much from his expression.
They parted with Bloom at the counter in a vestibule attached to the gym, where Ghost purchased waters for Cassidy and himself, shooing her away when she started pulling out her card. “I remember how broke I was as an initiate. Between the entry fee to this place and the new doodle on your shoulder, you must’ve already blown through most of your weekly allowance. How was your shoulder during the climb, anyway?” he asked, equal parts curious and wanting to be considerate. He grabbed the door to the gym and held it open for her as she answered, noting how Cassidy sparkled when he asked the question, a twinkle appearing in her bedroom brown eyes. She liked attention, that much was certain. But Ghost wasn’t sure if it was a general thing or his attention yet. He smiled anyway, because Cassidy looked happy.
Bloom had chosen a behemoth of a wall to try her hand at, a remarkably faceless, flat slab of stone that looked like the untouched material from which sculptures were chiseled. Its imposing height and blankness reminded Ghost of the wall surrounding heaven’s gate: impenetrable, at least to the likes of him. He would have expected nothing less from Bloom’s prodigious talent. “I’m surprised you didn’t want to join her,” he mused as he and Cassidy sat down a good distance away from the wall, so that they wouldn’t have to crane their necks once Bloom got going. “You seem to enjoy challenges.” He hadn’t noticed that Cassidy had been clicking her nails against her water bottle until the sound abruptly stopped so she could answer. Was she anxious? Or just bored? Was Ghost the one making her either of those? She answered curtly, and then turned the question back around on him, as if his interest in her was a pointed and abnormal thing. Of course, she never said any of those words, but that was the overwhelming implication they reeked of. Huh. Good question, actually. Ghost wasn’t sure of his degree of interest in Cassidy yet.
After a brief contemplative period of how he should answer her question, he determined that ambiguity was the best strategy. Inviting Cassidy along as an afterthought and then immediately hitting on her felt like the move of a creep. He’d throw Cassidy a line, and let her decide whether to take it or not. “Don’t worry about me. I can split my attention between you two just fine,” he answered suggestively, a double-meaning saturating his words and an arrogant angle tilting his lips. For a long, excruciating minute that felt like Ghost’s fingernails were being pulled out, Cassidy just looked at him, her expression inscrutable. Ghost forced himself to hold her gaze. He dared to wonder what would happen if she reciprocated his flirting. Dared to hope. And then with a final wrench, his will to maintain the tense silence snapped in half, like a cleanly severed bone. “Or is that your way of saying that you doubt I have the brain cells to multitask?” he joked when he could stand it no more, a full smile brightening his face. Humor is a poor defense mechanism, chimed in Ghost’s voice of reason. But it sure beats rejection, replied the optimistic one.
Cassidy smiled at his joke, but Ghost got the sense that she was just being polite. As they let the conversation die and turned back to Bloom, disappointment warred with relief in his heart. Ghost knew that, within his peer group, he was inexperienced. Almost shamefully so. He’d never made a romantic advance on a girl other than Charlie before, and fortunately for Ghost at the time, she liked to take things slowly. What if Cassidy wasn’t like that? What if, instead, she was like a sleek, glossy race car that went from zero to sixty in the time it took to blink? But just because Ghost had never driven a race car before didn’t mean that he wasn’t willing to learn.
Bloom climbed the rock wall with quick, methodical progress, like a warrior wading through battle. As he and Cassidy sat watching her, he became increasingly aware of her persistent nail-tapping. Not only that, but Cassidy had started jiggling her foot, too. Ghost glanced over at her. A thin line of sweat had broken out on her brow, making her skin glint white in the synthetic lights. Startled and certain that he had contributed to her sudden anxiety, he said, “I’m sorry if I said the wrong thing, Cassidy. Am I making you nervous?” Her eyes darted to him and then away, lightning fast. She gave him a one-word no, in answer. Not wanting to push the issue but still not convinced, Ghost inched away from Cassidy a little bit before leaning back on his elbows. Guilt wrapped a fist around his throat. And this is why you don’t flirt with girls you hardly know, snarled the cautious, critical voice in his head.
It was the yawn that changed his mind. While Ghost made sure to direct his gaze at Bloom’s tiny figure way up high, he was discreetly watching Cassidy out of the corner of his eye. Watched her as her jaws parted in a wide yawn. In a normal person, this would indicate tiredness, but sweat still dotted her brow. Which he could discern without looking straight at her by the way she swiped at her shiny face. Would someone tired really be sweating? Conversely, if Cassidy’s sweating was the result of an uptick in her pulse, would she really be yawning? He didn’t crack the code until Cassidy abruptly stood up and excused herself, jittering like a foundationless house in a hurricane.
Ghost had personally experienced the symptoms of a drug addict long enough to recognize them in someone else. Cassidy’s admission that she’d gotten high before today’s simulations only strengthened his suspicions. Someone just experimenting with drugs didn’t get high right before a test upon which her lifelong success hinged. That was something you only did when you couldn’t cope without them. And he didn’t know what the fuck the white feather he’d found in his pocket meant, but Ghost hadn’t put it there, and the only people who’d touched him all day were Cassidy and Bloom. Phillip too, the imp.
Cassidy moved at a brisk clip toward the vestibule where they’d bought their waters, as if she had somewhere urgent to be. At precisely twenty minutes after four o’clock, Ghost thought disbelievingly. He waited until she disappeared beyond the doors. Waited just a few seconds more. One Mississippi, two Mississippi… And then on the third Mississippi, Ghost rose from the gym floor and tailed her.
A breath of air left Lainey's lips as she waltzed down the stone corridor's of dauntless, boredom plaguing her. She was adorned in black leggings and a blue crop top the same color as her eyes, a token from her time in erudite. If she remembered correctly, the top had been part of an old dance costume before she cut it, she wondered if Cas would recognize it. That was one thing about dauntless that Lainey wasn't too fond of. In erudite there had been so many academical and artistic pursuits for her to fill her time with, never a moment where she wasn't training her mind. Years of dance had helped her prepare for the physical beating her body would take during dauntless initiation, but she still often wondered if she even belonged here. If she wasn't being completely honest with herself, she hadn't chose dauntless for the right reasons. The unveiling of her older sisters affair with her longtime boyfriend, Peter, had come at a rather opportune time. The night before the choosing ceremony, Lainey had returned home to find Evangeline, her lifelong better, in bed with her first love. Lainey had defected to dauntless the very next day, leaving Peter and her sister behind.
In erudite, she probably would've seen a therapist to talk about what had happened. In erudite, a lot of things would have been different, but this was not erudite and there was no going back now. If Lainey wanted to survive in this world she was going to need to bury Peter and Evangeline in her past, no more than waking corpses that now live only in her memories. In dauntless, she had become stronger, not just physically but mentally to. She was ruthless, whether that was for better or for worse. Lainey had decided she was never going to let anyone make her feel that disposable again, and god help the next man who face Elaine Covington's wrath. Now, as she roamed the corridors of dauntless, she found herself looking for something to keep her occupied, a new skill she could pick up or a new person she could ensnare in her world. But instead, she found one of her instructors, decidedly the most tolerable one, Bloom.
A sweet smile painted itself on Lainey's lips as she approached the older girl by the rock climbing wall "Wutcha doing?" She tilted her head curiously. Her long, brown hair was pulled back into two neat braids, keeping it out of her face. Bloom seemed unexpectedly excited to see Lainey, though Lainey couldn't imagine why. She definitely wasn't anybodies favorite student in dauntless, but Bloom seemed genuinely excited to share her hobby with Lainey, and that made Lainey open up a bit. It took less than a minute for the instructor to ask if she wanted to try it, and while Lainey's muscles still ached from training, she shrugged carelessly "As long as you promise not to drop me" She grinned, stepping into the harness. She felt exceptionally out of place and had no idea what all the ropes and fasteners were for, but she let Bloom suit her up for the task with only a bit of confused look on her face, shaking her head and approaching the rock wall hesitantly.
The first few hand holds seemed easy enough to distinguish, the rocks were easy to grab and not too far from each other. But as Lainey climbed higher, she found it increasingly more difficult to reach the sparse hand and foot holds. "You've gotta be kidding me!" she shouted down to Bloom when she neared a particularly hopeless spot. She paused for a moment, her arms shaking just a bit from supporting her own weight for so long before she devised a plan. She pushed off one of the rocks with her left leg, using the momentum to drive her upwards and to the right, her right arm extended as long as she possibly could. There was a split second where Lainey held her breath, sure that she was about to fall to her death, the slack in the rope catching her by surprise before her whole body lurched against the wall. There was a loud thud followed by the sound of scuffling as Lainey flailed her legs, both hands on one rock, desperately trying to find a foot hold. She could hear Bloom yelling from down below, something about a rock on her left, and that she would need to lift up her knee higher to feel it. Sure enough, she did, and was able to steady herself enough to finish her climb without incident.
Lainey definitely didn't execute the climb with the grace one would normally expect from someone trained for years in the art of dance. She hadn't been afraid so much as she had been out of her element. As she let the rope guide her back down to the ground, her conversation with Bloom continued casually. "Heights never bothered me" Lainey offered, "I always figured if I was gonna fall to my death, at least it would be a quick death." She chuckled softly, steadying herself once she was back on the ground. "Burning to death... now THAT'S a terrible way to go." she continued as Bloom began unhooking her from the ropes and harness. Lainey almost instinctively reached into her back pocket for her phone when it buzzed moments later, but it was just a notification from one of her health apps. She sighed and unlocked her phone, scrolling through her contacts until she found the name she was looking for. Maybe this would keep her occupied for tonight? She sent a quick text to Rhysand, "What r u doing later?" and closed her phone, her gaze flashing back to Bloom momentarily as she chewed her lips. "How do you even talk to dauntless boys?" She paused, her cheeks turning pink as she realized she had sought romantic advice from her instructor. "I mean..." She backtracked a bit, trying to make the entire thing seem more casual "I feel like all they care about is muscles and adrenaline"
Phillip Parks || 19 || Soldier/Trainer || Dauntlessborn
Watching Briony try to be cheerful was in one way lovely and in another way so sad. On the one hand he was enjoying watching her smile and light up. giggle, laugh and play with him. But on the other hand, and this one much stronger, he felt it was a show, an act, and that the joy she was experiencing may have been real, but it was tainted by so many worrying thoughts about her sister. That wasn't to say he didn't validate those thoughts, he most certainly did, and if anyone had accused Briony of being foolish in her endeavour to find her sister whom had been missing only a few days? He would have fought them tooth and nail and somehow made it a joke. No, he didn't blame Briony for where her mind was at the moment, but it did make him sad. The thought of trying on clothes with her did make him excited though, as from his memory he knew she liked doing things like that for fun, especially when you ended up not buying anything but spending so much time in the store. Though, they both came from families that were rich enough to buy from any store. As they went to enter the store they stood outside of, Briony - as if in a trance - suddenly rushed after someone. It was so jolting that Honey made a yelp of surprise, not pain, as she leapt out of Briony's way. Briony hadn't even seen her, her eyes so far away that Honey had not existed for a second. Only one thing came to Phillips mind, Blair, and yet... As his eyes followed along, he saw a man, definitely not Blair. A man who looked very familiar. Following Briony slowly, Honey trotting alongside quietly, he saw as the form of Maverick Maddox turned around to face them. Phillip was inwardly a bit taken aback. He'd always found both Caspian and Maverick to be extremely attractive males, and had enjoyed being around them, even if neither of them had ever given interest to him outside of his thoughts, but as he looked at Maverick he found himself taken aback by the physical state that he was. The Maddox boys had always been peak beautiful statements of what a Dauntless male should look like. Caspian more than Maverick, as Mav had been lost for a while only to spontaneously return around about the time Caspian died. But even so, when he had returned he could have stolen every Dauntless heart with the strapping body and persona he had. But now he looked so far away from that image that Phillip felt a pain in his heart. He hated seeing people fall from anything, respect, rapport, reputation, anything. He watched as Mav and Briony interacted as if in slow motion and super speed at the same time. Like a movie scene. Briony's concern was so heightened that Phillip was surprised, not having known how close they must have been. He knew both Maddox boys well enough, but not so close that he'd have called them good friends, more like friendly acquaintances.
As Mav tossed the bracelet to Briony, Phillip watched it, seeing that it was a hospital one. Ahh, so something had happened. Knowing Maverick it was more likely than not something to do with fighting, but at the same time... Maverick didn't seem the type to go to the hospital due to fighting of any kind, rather Phillip would have assumed he'd do that kind of stuff privately, lick his wounds kind of type. Maybe he was wrong, but he wondered if there was something a bit more sinister or hidden going on. But that explained his physical state well enough, and Phillip never needed to mention it, Briony was doing all the talking just fine on her own. As Mav noticed Phillip he nodded as a way of hello, and smiled at the comment of a date. "It's perfectly fine Master Maddox, I quite like interruptions." Phillip said with a sly smile and a tilted head. He was sure Maverick was just pulling their legs and wasn't implying anything, but also Phillip couldn't tell for sure. This wasn't technically a romantic date, especially since they were currently broken up. Plus, it was unlikely that Maverick knew Phillip was a trainer now. "It's good to see you, Maverick." Phillip said, refraining himself from saying It's good to see you alive. As he thought that might strike a nerve. As Briony offered for Mav to join them in their activity Phillip nodded along. "Please do, the more the merrier, plus it doesn't look like you have anything better to do." He said with a small laugh. Soon enough the three of them, with Honey obediently sitting outside the store, were perusing the store at their leisure. Phillip soon figured out that Briony was very much desiring to talk to Maverick, and so he stayed primarily silent as the three of them looked through outfits. He didn't really need new clothes, and had mainly suggested it as another way to try and lighten the stress of initiation for Briony, and also help distract her from the stress of Blair being missing, and also give them access to malls to keep an eye out. Now though it felt more like it was Briony and Maverick's time to catch up. Phillip didn't mind, he wasn't really the jealous type when it came to those he wasn't dating, but he was increasingly bored as the conversation that did not require him continued on. He was drowning it out by hyper focusing on the music being played in the background of the store, and checking out every single shirt that appealed to him, most of which were brightly coloured and very eccentric. Although he didn't wear the bright and very outlandish outfits he enjoyed, he liked to try them on and play around with the idea of buying them. He was a colourful person and liked to have that aspect of him shown in some way. Hell he might even wear make up if he knew how to put it on without appearing like a pretty girl.
Finally the three of them had picked a few outfits each, they had a system where they picked out an outfit for each person and thus all had two or three outfits. For Phillip, he had the colourful piece he was looking at before, a Paint splattered romper with pineapples with sunglasses all over it. He paired it with sum similar sunglasses and a pair of outlandish jandals as he parades around Briony and Maverick for a good laugh. It was nice to hear Briony's laugh, even if it was slightly subdued, and with Maverick Phillip was even just glad to get a smile out of him. He raised the sunglasses just a little and looked at the two of them. "Does it scream too much like I need attention? Because as much as that's true I'm not quite that desperate yet." He said with a flourishing spin, the sunglasses falling down wonkily over his eyes. Briony suggested it might give the wrong impression but that it suited him. He laughed and waited for their turns to try on their outfits, complimenting or laughing along with them depending on the style. For Briony he picked a military inspired outfit that was a camo green dress and a large chunky belt. As Briony came out he gave a low whistle. "I don't wanna get on your bad side." He laughed, watching as she looked at herself in the mirror. He knew it wasn't likely her style but he liked picking unusual things for people that suited their colour schemes. He pulled out his phone. "Pose darling, I want to remember how good you look right now." He said, watching as she did a small pose, but also noticing the slight blush on her cheeks as she did so in front of Maverick. As she went to go get dressed her turned to Maverick. "You've been gone again, I hope you've been okay?" He asked, not expecting a straight answer out of the man. He nodded along to what Maverick said, and shrugged his shoulders. "You coming back to training? Ghost has been fired last I checked, and I was hired to replace the one who was meant to replace him. It's quite messy right now and we could definitely use more." He said ,stopping as Briony finished coming out. He passed the outfit he picked for Maverick. "You don't have to try this on but I honestly thought you'd look amazing in it." He said. He passed him a formal casual suit with a blue jacket, a fancy belt and black pants, along with a white shirt. As Maverick went into the dressing room, Phillip leaned over to Briony. "Would you like me to leave you two alone? You seem to have some catching up, and I know you also want to see everyone at the bar later, so I'm happy to find something else to do if you guys would like some time together." He asked, one eyebrow raising as he waited for her answer.
Watching Charlie sip her tea and chat with her friends was much like a lioness stalking a baby gazelle. Without a soul in the cafe noticing Vex clocked every move the young medic made, every twitch, hidden wince, the haunted look in her eyes as she checked the world around her. Charlie might be pretending to be happy and relatively at ease among her friends but a well trained eye could tell she was spooked. Something must have happened and Vex could read it all in the body language the brunette displayed subconsciously. She had noticed Charlie had been hyper alert, paranoid even, over the past several days but right now it was almost as though Vex could literally see the lights turning and sirens wailing behind the young woman's smile. Noticing the shift on her spine and neck that indicated Charlie was about to turn around again Vex tucked into her brownie affogato, scraping the smooth coffee covered ice cream with her spoon and pairing it with a chunk of the brownie. She looked casual, perfectly in place, just like any other patron trying to enjoy their food or drink. It didn’t take long for her to hear the scrape of chair legs against the ground followed by Charlie’s familiar stride as the medic approached her and the counter.
“Charlie?” Vex flawlessly pulled off the impersonation of a person being pleasantly surprised. “Hi! I’m great now that my sweet tooth has been tended to.” She chuckled and shifted to face the young woman, giving off the comforting body language of being open and having nothing to hide. It was quite fascinating how something as simple as turning to face someone while having your shoulders relaxed could make the other person feel at ease. “I must have missed you when I came in! I guess I got too excited when I saw affogato on the board. How are you? Are you enjoying your free time?” Vex’s friendliness was so genuine in appearance but internally the young woman was still clocking everything about Charlie, much like she had the day she met with Charlie before murdering Caspian. In the back of her mind Vex was still practically purring with delight at the fact that she had so flawlessly gotten away with framing the medic for the death of the trainer. As she observed the young woman beside her Vex could see how controlled Charlie’s movements were and how strongly she was favoring her one wrist. By the way she was holding it and the slight clench of her jaw every now and then it didn’t take much for Vex to recognize the signs of someone with a broken wrist and trying to hide it. Interesting.
Hearing the question as it left Charlie’s lips, Vex's well trained features softened to give off the appearance of being appreciative yet accepting. “I really am grateful to have you looking out for me, it means a lot that you care.” She began, the lies coming out like the sweetest and most sincere of truths. “But I promise I am fine.” She assured Charlie with a small smile. “I think I have always just done better alone. I do my best to get along with others, and I am making some friends, but I also just enjoy my own space.” Vex informed the brunette with a shrug. “I like time to recharge after being social, grab a coffee or ice cream, go for a walk, clear my head, ya know?” She continued as she did her best to ease the young woman's worry and dissuade any curiosity Charlie might have about what she does when she is alone.
Rather suddenly Charlie seemed to tank downwards, the medic catching herself as Vex slowed her own reflexes in order to make it less obvious she had been paying close attention to Charlie’s body language. “Charlie! What happened? Are you okay?” She gasped with a masquerade of worry glittering in her eyes as she put on a show of trying to figure out what to do to help the young woman. It seemed that whatever happened wasn’t something Charlie desired to make a grand show of because the brunette did her best to recover or at least feign recovery before coming up with an excuse as to why she needed to depart rather suddenly. When the offer to accompany her arose, Vex took it and made it seem as though she wanted to accompany Charlie in order to assure she was truly safe. In reality she didn’t give a damn about the medic other than how she might be able to use her at some point and Dr. Munro hadn’t given a kill order. The walk to the infirmary didn’t take long but Vex kept an eye on Charlie, putting on the appearance of a caring ally to the young woman. Once they got to the infirmary Vex followed Charlie in which surprised the medic who clearly believed the initiate would abandon her once the destination was reached. “Your wrist…can I help you bind it? It won't be easy doing it one handed.” She offered in a sweet tone that was laced with care and caution. When Charlie showed surprise that Vex had noticed the injury, Vex simply nodded and looked a bit shy, “I saw you favoring it at the cafe…I didn’t say anything because I had hoped I was imagining it…” As she spoke she gave off the impression of someone looking ashamed. “I’m sorry, I should have checked on you then but you were with friends and you were just trying to get a refill.” Approaching Charlie to help bind her wrist, Vex worked gently and swiftly, the young medics wrist being bound in just a few moments yet with great care. Vex was far from surprised at the questions that followed but like any well trained spy she had her answers ready to perform. “My dad was a doctor, so was my uncle.” She told Charlie. “I was from Erudite and as I am sure you can imagine a little Dauntless bound me got my fair share of breaks and bruises trying to pretend being a guard on missions as a kid.” Her voice was soft with a fond chuckle as she spoke. “My dad was at work a lot so my uncle would always look after me, they worked opposite shifts. He got pretty used to putting me back together and I guess I got pretty used to watching him do it.” Vex looked at Charlie’s gaze, her whiskey brown eyes soft with affection as she spoke. “They always knew I wouldn’t stay in Erudite and losing my uncle last year kinda made it easier to leave…” She sighed with a flash of sorrow dancing across her expression. Vex knew the backstory Dr. Munro had set up for her like the back of her hand. Every word she spoke could be backed up by documents, files, and certificates all made to be exactly like the real ones. Her story being brought to life in every way that it could possibly be made to do so, complete with a headstone in a graveyard a few blocks into the Erudite compound.
Christian Parks || 16 || Initiate || Dauntlessborn
Chris might have questioned whether having lull and getting high was smart when he was alone with a very attractive girl who he liked, especially when he was not wearing a shirt and was getting worked up through his warm up and potential sparring, the testosterone flowing through his body was pumping him so hot he was starting to feel flustered around Fable, and she was beginning to look and feel so much more... He shook his head, trying to clear it as his mind raced and his heart followed, this wasn't the time to be following those train of thoughts, not only was it probably uncomfortable for Fable, but Christian knew he'd only broken up with Blair recently, and had no intention of dishonouring his love for her with someone else. He may have broken up with her, but he did so with pure intentions and a desire to rebuild what he was, and maybe rebuild what they had, if that were ever possible. He definitely liked Fable, that was too true for him to deny at this point, but he was sure that with Dr Munro's help, and the lull, he had the strength to build his character and be friends with people, rather than the boyfriend of people. Most of his friends were his exes, or they were friends of his exes that he had become friends with. He wanted friends whom he could claim as his own, and Fable was the first one he could think of. He didn't want to ruin that with thoughts of... well.. other things. Yet he couldn't quite shake the testosterone and the beating heart he had, so he simply tried to fuel that in his warm ups, probably going overboard. As Fable declared that she wanted to do hand to hand he felt a sense of pride. He was good at hand to hand, and he was excited to get to have close physical contact with Fable. The lull infusing his blood caused shivery tendrils of pleasure to tickle up him as he thought about it, and he clenched his fists with excitement. "That's great, I love hand to hand. Just... let me know if things get too much okay, I have a tendency to get a bit hot headed when sparring. I don't want to hurt you." He said, looking Fable directly in her mismatched eyes and saying this part in a very serious tone. "If you tell me to stop, I will stop. If I don't, hit my jugular, I should jolt back and struggle for a bit but it'll clear my head.' He said again, very seriously, pointing to the jugular in his throat. "I haven't done sparring since I was either drugged out of my mind or in a state of pure anger... so I have no idea what I am like when sparring." He said with a shrug of his shoulders, rolling them around as he walked to the sparring mats and got into position on one side of the little arena. "You start." He suggested as Fable got into position.
As Fable stood there, putting her body into the desired position she wanted to start in, he couldn't help but admire her figure. He'd never gotten a good look at it, obviously she wasn't showing much skin, in fact she was peculiarly covered for someone who was about to do sparring, but that didn't hide her figure at all. In fact the skin tight shirt she wore was hugging her torso in such a way that Christian may have been staring at it for far too long, his eyes trailing it slightly, still pumped from the immediate intake of lull, and following down her figure to her hips and posterior, travelling down her legs the same way. Fable, whether she was abhorred or enjoying it, must have taken this as the perfect opportunity to strike, as while his eyes were definitely not on her face, she moved with speed and agility towards him. Thanks to the lull in his system his reflexes were quick, if not a little sloppy, and he skidded to the side, one arm coming up to protect his chest from the quick punch that Fable was about to deliver. He did grunt though as the punch impact still hit his arm, and he was surprised and yet also not with the strength that had followed through on that. With a wide swing of the arm he hadn't used, he aimed for Fable's shoulder, wanting to try topple her or at least shake her, but she was faster than he was, using her nimble and agile body to lean back just far enough to have his arm miss her, and she used it as a way to circumvent his next attack and do her own instead. With a louder grunt this time he felt as his feet were sliding backwards quickly as her foot made contact with his chest. For a moment it felt like his heart skipped and he took a deep breath, "Nice one, didn't see that." He wheezed, her kick having winded him. He wasn't sure if she was just recovering from her own attack, or maybe she was concerned with how hard she had hit him and was hesitating, but he used that moment to do his own attack. Using his size to his advantage Christian stepped very close to Fable very quickly, excitement racing through his nerves as he used the time of her trying to make a defense to kick out at her legs in order to topple her. Success happened as he felt impact and saw her trip, not wanting her to genuinely fall, he dropped himself to catch her, planning on trying to grapple her and cause a surrender in that form, but somehow she slipped from his grasp even as his hands felt her body for mere seconds, her body seemed to slide through them like water, and she was suddenly on the other side of him with a kick to the back. As surprised as he was, he was still working of his heightened state and testosterone, he couldn't defend his back against the kick, but what he could do was catch himself with his hands and use his feet to kick backwards, Fable did not have enough time to respond, and he felt as her whole body began to fall. Rolling to the side he heard a loud grunt from her as she landed where he had just been.
Letting Fable get up, he stood on one side again, looking at her with a large smile. "You okay? Shall we keep going?" He asked, himself not wanting to stop, but not wanting to make Fable do anything she wasn't comfortable with. She might have been slightly winded from that fall, but she grinned as she said she wanted to continue. This time Christian did not wait for her to start, he stepped in close, trying to corner her on the mat so she had to spar with him face to face. He chose to use punches this time, aimed at her chest simply because he couldn't aim lower and he didn't want to accidentally punch her face. If it were a real fight he would have aimed for the face however. He wasn't as fast as Fable, but his attacks were stronger, and as she was defending he began to put more strength into his attacks. Not so much that he would genuinely break anything on her body, but enough to see that she was tiring from having to defend against it. Due to his slower speed though she got through her own jabs to his abdomen, and he was clenching his teeth from the impacts but it didn't sway him. Eventually it must have either become a struggle to persist, or Fable had another plan, because as he was looking at her, fists still following through with their attacks at her torso, she was suddenly gone, and Christian spun around to defend himself again from the kick that was coming his way. With crossed arms he took the kick to them, and his feet slid only slightly. He could see Fable was huffing just a little bit, but she was either not so tired, or hiding it well. Having a slight advantage now that Christian was in a defensive position, she began to kick and punch at his body with faster but not as strong attacks. Christian used his arms to take the beating, but was looking for an opportunity to strike again or overwhelm her. His eyes zoned in on her shoulders which were mainly unprotected but at an awkward angle, he wondered if he leapt towards her would she be able to react in time? As he was thinking and not defending himself amazingly, one of Fable's kicks or punches got him right near the groin, and he dropped to a knee as the pain spiked through his body. Fable lit up red in the face as she realized where she had got him, but didn't say anything, instead she continued in her attack, having just gotten an accidental (or maybe not) advantage. Christian defended most of the attacks that came next but one did get him on the side of the head, causing a ringing sound that frustrated him persistently. Lashing out almost without thought, he heard the air come whooshing out of her lungs as his arm connected very solidly with her side, thankfully no broken feeling as it wasn't quite that hard, but even so it caused Fable's body to slide a fair distance on the mat, and she struggled to stay standing in the moment. Gathering himself for a moment, wincing still from the hits she'd given, he leapt at her with a tiger like pounce. The fear in her eyes was something Christian never wanted to see again, and the way her mouth opened to possibly tell him to stop was enough for him to lessen his next move. Grabbing her shoulders he pushed her backwards with downward force, wincing himself as she landed back first on the mat, thankfully which were semi-soft, and he landed with legs straddling her abdomen and gripping her hips, and his hands pinning her to the ground, his head above hers looking down at her. No words were spoken as the two of them caught their breath and Christian waited to see if she needed to stop, whether she could move on, or whether she would surprise him and get some advantage somehow.
Aubrey gratefully sat with Thorn braiding her hair, she had always loved it when someone she trusted did her hair, but only then. Up until this point the list had been only her mother, Charlie and Finn, but now Thorn had somehow gotten on her list. His fingers were methodical and certain, steady, and he worked quickly but not recklessly. He didn't tug her hair at all and he made sure that he was doing it softly as to not cause her scalp any pain. By the time he was almost done they had gotten through the tunnel, and the train was heading towards an area that was more populated than where they'd been previously. The common area, home to no faction but also not for the factionless, it was where the public school was, and many shops that wanted to appeal to multiple factions at the same time. "We should have a look around here, even if we can't find Blair or Finn we could at least relax after all the training we've done." Aubrey suggested, shrugging her shoulders and turning her head to look at Thorn, who had finished her hair and tied the end off. He nodded along, and she couldn't tell if he thought it was a good idea, or just didn't have any of his own. Aubrey didn't really mind though, simply desiring to keep moving so that she didn't begin to fade again. She couldn't keep working off of caffeine, it was so quick to drop her energy that it was basically useless, but at this point she had nothing else. Even now she was getting the itch for something, caffeine or alcohol, and her fingernails begain to lightly itch at her wrists as they watched the train near the platform. This was one of the few places the train actually stopped at, one of the few places it actually had people load and unload it. Even so, Aubrey and Thorn got off without notifying anyone, not entirely sure whether they should be on it or not, never having been told not to, but never having been told it was okay. Reason dictated that it was probably not the intention of the train, even if the majority of people would disagree. Either way they stepped off into the busy street and began to walk. Aubrey swung her hair happily, enjoying the heavy weight of the hair, and holding the end of it in her hands sometimes as she felt the well done braid. "You're very good at this, I wish I'd known that sooner. I had to teach Christian how to do this and it wasn't nearly as good." Aubrey declared. Thinking of Christian that way she wondered whether she would let Christian touch her hair now still? Remembering that he helped her the other day she nodded to her own inward question, certain that she would in fact still let him do that, adding him to her mental list of hair friendly people. As vain as it was, Aubrey was insanely proud of her hair. Not only was it extremely long for a Dauntless girl (most having short hair or only moderate length so that it wasn't in the way), Aubrey's was so long that at full length it dangled over her butt. It was in good condition, it was not dry and yuck, but it was good hair and it looked good. Aubrey thought she was an attractive girl as it was, but if she were to lose the hair she had, she would struggle to see herself as beautiful any longer. She was very vain in this way, but she didn't really care. Everyone had something like that.
As they passed some shops Aubrey pointed to some pastry shop. "Look, they make pastry's the shapes of the different factions." She pointed with a laugh, some of the pastries looking cool while others looking terrifying. Abnegation looked scary, two pastry hands holding each other. She giggled as she looked, her eyes scanning not only this stall but many others. There were many scents and images for her happy brain to handle, and she was feeling almost high through this, almost forgetting about the search for Finn and...
Aubrey gasped, blue eyes frozen as she locked eyes with her. Blair. Instinct and reaction were faster than thoughts, and before either girl could say anything, Aubrey had run over, her arms wrapping around Blair with a lion's hug. She squeezed the girl nearer to her, and she could feel them both shaking. "Blair!" She finally said, tears springing to her eyes but she quickly blinked them back so that nobody would notice. Thorn had come up along side them, and Aubrey eventually let go, having never hugged Blair so tightly in her life. "Blair what the hell, what are you doing here? Where have you been? Are you okay? You look like shit! What happened to you?" Where is Finn? She wanted to ask. She bit her tongue at the last moment though, seeing Blair as if for the first time. She was skinnier, which was scary given that she had only disappeared a couple days ago, her body was thinner and her skin paler, her eyes had dark circles underneath and she had other dark circles that looked like bruising. Her hair hung limply and oily from her head, as if she hadn't showered in days. Blair spoke slowly, as if in a dream, almost monotonously if not for the emotion tangled in her voice. She had gotten sick? So sick that she couldn't tell Briony? OR Christian? Aubrey tapped her foot in disbelief as she listened, but didn't diagree or challenge Blair's statements. It could be true, how would Aubrey know? She had been so busy and so drunk this last week that she honestly was only taking her information about Christian and Blair mostly based off of others. "A note would have been nice." Aubrey said under her breath as Blair spoke. She watched as the girl paused for a moment, and Aubrey wished she'd butted in, because before Blair had spoken she knew exactly what or who she was going to talk about. Sad blue eyes gazed into Aubrey's own pitiful ones, and Thorn's kind generous ones, and asked the question Aubrey didn't want to answer.
"He's kind of the same, since you left. Except he's been super worried about you, as has Briony and everyone else. You do know how many people have been going missing right? Thorn and I were literally out here searching for you and Finn. I can't believe you're back..." She said, eyes searching the people around them. "You.... You don't know where Finn is do you?" She said, though rather than being a question she made it more of a statement, knowing Blair would nod before she did. Aubrey nodded, looking away as she once again found her nose craving the pastries from the stall. Thorn began to talk to Blair, and not wanting to watch Blair pass out from what looked like exhaustion, Aubrey jogged over to the pastry man, buying some pastries and then heading back to the two, holding out the bag which held the five pastries. "Here, have something to eat, you look like you could pass out." She said. "I think the amity one is a garlic herb pastry, the Erudite looks like an eclair of some sort, the Dauntless has cheese and maybe chilli, the Abnegation one seems to be just a funny shaped croissant, and the Candor one is part sweet, part savoury." She said, watching as Thorn and Blair took one each, and Aubrey herself grabbed the Dauntless one to eat, relishing in the chilli and cheese. "You've missed some big stuff. Phillip is one of the trainers now, Ghost was fired and you lost a bunch of points not being here." Aubrey said. She saw how even the mention of Phillip caused Blair to look sad, and Aubrey winced. She had never gone through a break up like this before, and not knowing exactly what to do but knowing she should do something, she looked at Thorn for help, hoping that he would put his arm around Blair or do something to help her out. Aubrey felt her own body was shaking as it was, and her thoughts and feelings for Finn were still pumping through her as she desired to keep looking for him, whilst adrenaline also pumped through now that they had found Blair. It was a miracle, but she didn't know what to do. She knew she should do something, but her blue eyes gazed at Thorn for help.
Wind combed through his short dark hair making it slick back against his scalp as he looked out the window and across the dauntless compound. In the distance Thorn could just make out with his good eye the rolling green fields of Amity on the other side of the city walls. For a moment he felt a stab in his heart, a longing for a life that he hadn’t chosen. Everything had told him that his place was in Amity, the tests, his mother, even his father though he knew that was meant in the worst way possible. Yet on the day when he got to decide his own fate the young man knew that no matter where he wanted to be he had to pick the faction where he was needed most. He didn’t pick Dauntless because he craved fighting and violence like so many others, he chose to stay in this hell because he needed to be here to protect his mother. It was almost comical in the darkest of ways how fate had decided to reward him for his sacrifice. Despite doing all he could to keep her safe, Thorn hadn’t been enough. His mother had died, his father hadn’t saved her, he hadn’t saved her, and in the end Thorn had only displayed a side of himself that showed he never would have belonged in Amity either. A faction of peace and forgiveness would never want or accept a member that had beaten his own father into a coma.
Blinking several times in order to hide the tears building at the edge of his vision, Thorn ran his arm across his face and stepped back into the cart. He knew his eyes must be red and as he studied Aubrey’s face with his one good eye Thorn could tell he wasn’t the only one plagued with thoughts that weren’t exactly about rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers. As she spoke he found himself nodding along with her words without fully realizing it. “I guess it’s because we can see the happy along with the sad…makes it worth looking at.” He agreed as he sat with his arms resting on his drawn up knees, his back curved in a way that was relaxed but not the best for his posture. He knew for a fact that he hadn’t been the only one enduring hardships over the past week or so but he also knew better than to try and ask Aubrey about her feelings directly. She was strong and confident, she didn’t enjoy those traits being challenged even if innocently because at the end of the day they were the pillars that often kept her standing. If they were to truly begin to chip away, Thorn dreaded how she might crumble and hoped to never see that happen, silently promising to help her from falling like so many others already had.
“Uh yeah, sure.” He found himself replying without hesitation when Aubrey asked him to braid her hair. He knew she must be drained and running on fumes after the day she had endured. Already Aubrey had passed out before him, then she chugged a pot of coffee, got a tattoo, more caffeine, scaled a building, and jumped a train. It was a lot for anyone but especially for a person who was already near the end of their charge. In the darkness of the tunnel Thorn depended on his sense of touch to part her thick blonde hair into three sections, his fingers beginning to weave the sections together as he had a thousand times before to his mothers hair. Sight hadn’t been one of his strongest senses in years so being without it for a short while didn’t bug him. He could still remember when for several days he had been fully blinded by his father after the drunken man punched him in the head. Back then Thorn had believed he would never see again and knew he and his mother would suffer because of it. Over a series of days though the vision began to slowly return to one eye while the other remained forever cloaked in darkness. Over the years Thorn had grown used to it and operated as well as anyone with two eyes would, though it did create a nasty blind spot that required his head to be on a constant swivel.
As the darkness of the tunnel faded to dim light Thorn looked at the braid that was now half down Aubrey’s back and remembered her tattoo. “I think it’s perfect.” He said out of the blue. “Not the braid, I’m still working on that…” He clarified quickly and adjusted before continuing to weave her hair. “Your tattoo I mean. The barbed wire. I think it works for you, it feels like something very…you.” He continued and realized how stupid he must sound. “I mean…barbed wire is something a lot of people look at and think of as dangerous but when you are on the other side of the wire you don’t see it that way. The people who are behind the barbed wire see it as protection, as safety. I think that is very telling of who you are.” As Thorn spoke he looked around for a hairband to tie Aubrey’s braid off with and as though she was reading his mind one appeared over her shoulder and landed on his knee. Taking the band in his hand the young freckle faced man finished off the braid with the tie and tucked it over Aubrey’s shoulder for her to see. “People who might not know you might view you as a threat or a challenge because you are very good at what you do, but people who have a chance to be on the other side and who do know you…they feel safe.” He hoped his words might help her in some way but also knew he likely sounded like an absolute sap. “So it works.”