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Looking for friends and relationships for my characters
Mara would be happy to know Gary due to his money moneys and Michelle would likely get along with Jasmine and maybe try to sneak her left overs from work (ice cream shop).

The City on the Edge of Forever
Nick's grip on her went slack. His eyebrows knitted together in a look of confusion and he looked far off at the distance, though he wasn't looking at anything at all.

He was so confused. He never knew any of this about Jessica. He always just thought she was a nice, sweet, shy girl who liked to talk and hang out. He had no idea she though her life was so awful and he certainly didn't know the place that he held for her. He'd never noticed. How could he notice? He knew that he couldn't see people the way others could. He felt terrible that he never noticed or had the slightest inkling of how miserable she was.


Nick felt like he'd been watching a shadow play and now someone had pulled the curtain back so he could see the show in full view. He'd known all along that he would have problems reading people since he was diagnosed as a kid, but now he felt like he'd failed her by it.


I'm so stupid. Why can't I ever tell when people are....when they.....I don't even know. I can't even phrase the thing that I'm missing.

Frustration led to guilt.


She cared so much for him and she'd opened herself up to him completely. She'd pretty much said he was all that she had and her only reason for living. Even in the best circumstances he didn't think he could return that. He cared for her and he liked her and if things were different he would stay with her and they would date and see if they could have a future together, but he couldn't imagine another person being everything to him. He had a good life. He had a loving family and good interests and lots of friends and a bright future.

Or at least he did. It was all gone now. The island had taken everything from him except Jessica.


Nick attempted to disentangle himself from the flurry of thoughts and feelings concerning this girl and while he did all that came out was


"Jessi....."

v5 Bitch Squad
Well, I already said I'm down but I'll put it here to be all official.

Miss Amaranta Montalvo would be a great addition! She's a spoiled, rich, bitchy beauty queen.

The City on the Edge of Forever
Nick put one large arm around Jessica and pulled her in close. His fingers trailed over the dip of her hips, caressing the smooth skin.

We're doomed, he thought, suddenly in response to her question.

The rules didn't change. All go in and one comes out. It couldn't be him and Jessica together. Teo had known that, hadn't he? Her heart beat was so strong and steady against his side. Strong muscles of her bare back strained against his touch like she was uneasy. If she made the slightest movement, his heart jumped. He'd only been with Clio before now and she was nothing like Jessica. There was that wall between him and Clio but Jessica had offered up her heart and soul. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. He wasn't sure if he'd done the same for her.


But she'd asked what he thought death was like. Why did she do that?


Maybe she was afraid. Maybe she figured out like he had that one of them had to die, if not both. He didn't want her to be afraid, but there was nothing he could really do to assuage such a legitimate fear. His fingers gripped her hip now, tightly. It hurt terribly to think that she was afraid and there was nothing he could really do for her.


"I think it's maybe like jumping into a pool. You're scared at first, but then once you take that last breath and go, it's light and calm and peaceful."


He just wanted her to not be scared anymore.


The City on the Edge of Forever
((Nick LeMonde continued from Full Circle))

((Thread cap exceeded with permission))

Nick sheepishly pulled on his dirty t-shirt. It was a bloody, dirty rag but it was all that he’d had in the way of clothes and he wasn’t really fond of being without clothes for too long. It was a left over from when he’d been heavier as a child. Kids would tease him at the beach and during gym and though he’d gotten down to a healthy size with diet and wrestling in high school, it was an insecurity he couldn’t shake.

Now fully clothed, he laid his head on his bag which he’d been using as a pillow. The dawn was just about to come. The sun wasn’t up yet but it was just one notch up from the total darkness of night. Nick rolled slightly to his left and put his hand over the smaller hand resting on the ground. He smiled.

She smiled back.

The trio had left the parish and headed straight down to the residential district in search of supplies. They scanned the businesses for extra supplies and happened upon some bread and water. In a bar they found a dead red head with a sack full of dynamite and Teo pocketed the explosives. They briefly thought about using a house for shelter but heard fighting and decided to keep moving. It was night when they reached the cliffs. With the cliffs behind them no one could flank them at least and they had three range weapons. It wasn’t a bad position, so they set camp for the night with one person keeping watch every few hours.


Nick was an hour into his shift when a whisper tugged at him. Jessica couldn’t sleep. No, he didn’t mind the company, though she should really have gotten some sleep. But she couldn’t.

She fit her head perfectly into the crook of his neck and asked for stories to calm her. She was blushing, but in the dark he couldn’t see. He told her long winding stories that had no point or that he’d long forgot the point of. Most often when he did this, people started to ignore him or would wander off, but she stayed and listened. Most people told him his history stories were boring, but she sat by his side, patient and warm and listened.

At some point she caught him looking at her and their gazes connected. Her eyes had some unfathomable expression in them; one that he would never have been able to guess the meaning of, but he thought whatever it was, it made her beautiful. He leaned down, driven by the impulse to have proof he wasn’t alone. She silently accepted and their lips met.

Her arm wrapped around the back of his head with the bend of her elbow resting against his neck. His arm slid around her waist, drawing her near. With every touch, she spurred him on, and the further he was spurred, the bolder his touch became.

Until…

Until


“Nick.”

He blinked and looked at her, lying across from him.

“What are you thinking?" she murmured.

He squeezed her hand. What was he thinking? More often than not, he was just thinking about nothing, or about books or about news he read, though that wasn’t it this time.

“We could have had it all.”

This Side of Paradise
Mary-Ann ran out her screaming until is grated down on the bottom of her throat and dragged to a forced stop. Just then she heard the creak of the door. In her peripheral vision some dark shape moved. She tried to get up out of the bed but over extended, falling off, still tangled in bloody bed sheets.

She thrashed and wriggled until her head was visible from the heap on the floor. Mary-Ann looked up to see just how screwed she was. She expected a chain saw wielding psycho with half their face bloody and raw.

It was just a boy. She remembered his name was Peter, but there was no last name attached to it and her mind couldn't pull up any further information.

He spoke gently and he came to her unarmed. He wanted to help her. Suddenly she felt stupid for freaking out like she did.

"I-I know," she sputtered. The girl was long gone and no threat now.


"I...it just...there was..."

She needed to explain why she was so scared and why she didn't want him to help her. He needed to leave, but the words weren't coming out.

"Everyone's dead. Everyone I was with. Hayley Kelly shot my friends. She was going to shoot me, but she was- she ran out of bullets," she said at lightening speed.

She hugged herself and shivered, digging her nails into her arms and looked up at the boy with wide, frightened eyes.

"It's not okay. It's never going to be okay. I'm dead weight. I couldn't even shoot a girl who would have killed me if it weren't for dumb luck. I'm a millstone and if you stay with me you'll end up like the other people I was with. It's already over. I'm just waiting. I'm not brave enough to even end it myself. I'm holding on and it's pathetic. I can't stop hearing Hayley laugh at me when the gun clicked so empty."


This Side of Paradise
Her eyes squeezed tight as the blood gushed from her severed finger. She opened her mouth to scream and she felt the scream, but she didn't hear it.



She opened her eyes and she was at the base of a temple in a toga. Mary-Ann swung around again, looking for something. The temple was red, like the trees. Pillars of fire surrounded her and the building. She bit her lip.


The thing laughed at her and she continued to squeeze it by the neck. It should have been dead by now. Her fingers sunk into the rotted flesh.


Mary-Ann hugged herself. She couldn't see anything past what the fire illuminated. There was only blackness. She crouched down. She didn't have it in her to move any more. There was a tingling, empty feeling all around her. Mary-Ann knew that if she could just find someone that the feeling would stop. She needed someone to lean on, someone's shoulder to rest her head on. She used to do that when she'd had a bad day. She would go home and her dad would always ask her how her day was and if he saw in her eyes that it hadn't been great, he'd sit down and she'd sit next to him and rest her head on his shoulder while he patted down her hair and she'd tell him what was wrong.

It broke her heart that she would never have that again. Her hand tugged at the toga. The sheet was stiff and filthy to the touch.

There was singing coming from the temple. Carefully she mounted the stone steps. Her shadow was cast in front of her from the flames in at the entrance.

Inside the stone swam and wavered like it wasn't stone at all. The choir wasn't singing. They were shrieking as they burned.

Darling.

It was the voice from the announcements. The man. Mary-Ann covered her ears and fell to her knees.

"Leave me alone!"

You're a good girl.

"Why are you doing this?" she hissed through clenched teeth.

You are an offering.

Mary-Ann couldn't block out the voice. Her hands were still clamped down on her ears but at the same time she felt herself still trying to choke the monster from the town square. She could still feel the half-caved in throat in her hands.

You will die as an offering.

Her eyes flew open. She was tangled in the sheets from the bed, the toga. She was wrapped in the bloody sheets of Rose Codreanu. She pulled her hands away, horrified. She must not have seen it . Dried blood and the smell of corpse was all over her hands. She didn't care who heard her.

She screamed.

This Side of Paradise
Mary-Ann lifted her head. She was in some sort of forest. Everything was red. Why was everything red? She pulled herself up and stumbled around. She pushed back the strange branches and slimy leaves in her way. What they were slimy with, she didn't know nor did she want to know.

Mary-Ann

She gasped and turned on her heels. She spun in circles. There was nothing near. Not even the wind was blowing. It occurred to her that she wasn't wearing clothes. That didn't really bother her for some reason. She kept walking in the direction she thought she heard her name from.

Suddenly the trees stopped and she was on a beach. At the end of the beach was a boat. She was free.

Mary-Ann ran frantically through the sand. It was knee deep, this sand. Whatever. The sand didn't matter. She was free to go home. And then suddenly she was stopped and fell backwards.

She put her hands up to the space in front of her and her hands were blocked as well. It was like a mirror maze, but the walls were clear plastic. She could see the thing she wanted. In a straight line the boat would be no more than twenty feet away. But she was trapped. She got up and tried as fast as she could to navigate the impossible maze. Nothing she did made a bit of difference. Time after time she hit the clear barriers.

When someone heartless hears a heartbeat they're jeaaallouuuusss

"No use!" she screamed.

She pitched herself forward and there was nothing in front of her. She was in the town square. R.J. caught her.

If you could have him back for a minute, just one, would you? One minute, but it comes with a heavy heavy price.

"One minute?" she exhaled. "Yes."

He smiled at her and she smiled back. They hugged. He was so warm and lovely. She was safe here. It was the safest place in the world. The minute was up. His nails dug into her arms. She looked up and the flesh was rotted and his smile was twisted and gaping.

Her hands shot out at his neck, squeezing with all her might. She could feel the bones and muscles crinkle and crack under her hold. A sick, but feminine cough came out of the thing. It almost sounded like a laugh. It brought a decayed hand up to hers, fastened tightly, so tightly, around it's neck. As if she were a cracker, it snapped off the index finger of her right hand.

Full Circle
Nick noticed Jessica flailing around for some reason. He shrugged it off and after a moment she looked up at him. He smiled warmly.

"Of course! I'll make sure you stay safe," he answered in his normal, bouncy, pre-island voice. He looked at Teo and nodded in agreement. He put his hand up to his lips and lightly tapped his mouth. It was a little nervous gesture.

"Yes. We should go down to the town area on the map. There aren't many people left around and a solid house would make a good base. We could all probably use with a proper place to crash and we're running low on supplies," he recounted, mostly for his own benefit.

"We've been doing pretty well on supplies what with the augmentations......"

He got awkward and stopped a moment.

"Uh. And the stuff we had already. It......we, we've managed alright since we've only had three this whole time. When we picked up Jessica we...."

Another moment of uncomfortable realization hit. Gracie was dead. He was still sad over that. They'd lost a good ally. Her killer was dead and gone too, though, so there was no epic revenge to be gained. It felt empty and hollow to let it go like that. To let her go like that.

"Hu? Oh right, supplies. Well, there might still be something in the town we can scavenge. Canned goods or something. Water, maybe. Seems like that's where we're headed next."

He lifted his bag onto his shoulder and held the katana with his right hand and with his left, he took Jessica's hand. The feeling would reassure him that she was there. It would keep her from running from him.

She made him feel a little calmer. Her presence hearkened him back to St. Paul. Jessica was dirty and grungy now, but underneath it he could still smell just a touch of the shampoo she used. Her hand was warm. His huge hands covered part of her wrist and he could feel her blood push gently against him.

He was lulled for a moment. Then a wash of different feelings hit. Suspicion, love and strangely, jealousy.

Inside this button-nosed package was home. She reminded him of everything that home was. So the question could be asked; is it Jessica that Nick is so absolutely devoted to, or what she represents to him? Of course, he'll never think to ask himself this question. Nick is currently preoccupied with figuring out the number of supplies to days remaining. He's trying to calculate exactly how many people are left yet to fight.

It's probably for the best if just he continues his calculations and holds on tight to the girl's hand as they walk back out into the world.

((Nick LeMonde continued The City on the Edge of Forever ))

This Side of Paradise
((Mary-Ann Warren continued from Confiscate the Crown))

Mary-Ann walked with her bag dragging on the ground behind her. If you asked her where she was going, she wouldn't have been able to tell you. If you asked her why she kept going, she would have shrugged.

Sometimes during her walk she'd start to cry. The bad thoughts and events of the last few days would push the tears through and then she'd get worn down, go numb, and stop. The cycle of tears and memories went on for hours until she saw the shack in the distance. Bodies in front served as lawn ornaments. Mary-Ann hardly glanced down as she pushed through to the entrance of the hut. The inside was a wreck. She continued on until she found a half destroyed bed, soaked over in dried blood. Mary-Ann left her pack, put her gun on a night stand near the bed and laid down. She looked blankly up at the old, stained ceiling.


"I want to die, please," she said to no one in particular. It was flat. There was not an ounce of sorrow or pleading.

She shut her eyes and she shook like a leaf. She opened her mouth and gasped.

"It should never have been me," she said quietly. RJ was the stronger of the two. It should have been him here. Thea and Charlene. They were so full of fire and drive. They would have made it to the end for sure. She calculated at the last announcement. There couldn't have been more than 50 of them left. The people that were left were the toughest, the best. They were survivors. What was she? She was like whipped cream. Pretty and sweet, but worthless. She was fluff.

She was a friendly girl. She was quiet, but kind. This was no place for her. She should have been weeded out long ago. Hayley had known that. Hayley knew Mary-Ann wouldn't shoot even though Hayely was prepared to kill her without a second thought. She didn't even care. She thought it was so funny that Mary-Ann survived.

Everyone she'd met was dead. Her hand bunched up the disgusting sheets under her.

"I don't want to be alone," she choked. Mary-Ann turned and buried her face into the grimy mattress.

"I don't want to have to go through more of this. I can't. I can't go through another day. I've reached the end. I'm sorry I'm so ineffectual. They'll kill me. They'll kill me. When will they come to kill me?" she mumbled into the mattress.

Mary-Ann was hyperventilating. Soon she calmed down, breathing even. She was dizzy. Her hands stopped trembling and fell to her side. Her muscles relaxed. She was unconscious now and if someone was going to walk in and blow her to a million pieces, she hardly cared.

Full Circle
Nick starred down the boy as he walked out. He wasn't sure how it was possible, but it was some how more still and quiet now than he'd ever experienced in a church before. To him those sorts of places always seemed to be on mute anyway. The boy tossed something round at them and ran away. Nick looked at the object as it bounced in and rolled near him. He knew it wasn't a grenade. He'd spent so many hours pouring over his books about weapons. He'd know any one of them in an instant.

He looked around now that they were alone again. Everyone seemed fine. Jessica had gotten a little dirty when they'd hit the deck. Nick tilted his head and then licked his finger and smushed it against Jessica's face, trying to rid it of a stray mark.


I would protect her always and I’d do anything for her. I’d never let anything hurt this person. What is the point of thinking about this person and how I feel about them? Well, when I’m around them I feel like they bring out the best in me. I’m warm and nurturing and loyal and protective and affectionate. She brings out the absolute best version of my self.


It wouldn't come off. He was frustrated. He rubbed harder.

She wouldn't play me for a big meat shield. No one who makes me like that could. Unless....how would I know if she was if she really was that good at it. It can't be.


He stopped and suddenly realized something.

"Oh. It's a birthmark." He'd been trying to scrub away a beauty mark on her face. "Er, opps," he apologized sheepishly.

"Not that I mean to say it's dirt. I looks very nice on you," he said with a nod.

Suddenly he looked up and saw Teo. He was giving him a look. It was a strange look. Not a happy one. He concentrated hard to see if maybe he could decipher it's meaning.

"Uh, good thing we're all okay," he said slowly.

Confiscate the Crown
Mary-Ann felt faint. She looked at the other girl, Hayley. She pulled out a gun and pointed it at her. She was insane. She was a killer. If there was anyone on the entire island that she could kill and no one would find fault with her, it would be this girl.

She whimpered. The gun shook and rattled slightly in her hands.

No.

Hayley pulled the trigger and that same hollow click that Mary-Ann had heard when RJ was teaching her to use the gun sounded now. It was shallow and unsatisfying to the holder.

Hayley laughed. She was laughing at her. Marry-Ann wasn't even something to be taken seriously. She'd gotten lucky, get again. Mary-Ann stood perfectly still, mouth open, staring at Hayley's gun. The other girl collapsed right in front of her, laughing still.

She stared at her. She could shoot her. She could do it right now and no one would blame her and no one would know. The girl was a murderer many times over. But Mary-Ann bit her lip and lowered the gun. She couldn't shoot an unconscious girl, no matter how much she deserved it.

And then it came at her. It rushed her; flooded her so intensely. She was angry. Maybe she'd never been so angry in her whole life. All the other times, all the other people she'd been angry before now seemed to pale in comparison. Her fingertips filled up with it and she could feel in her eyes when she squeezed them shut. Mary-Ann held onto her gun so hard that the impression of the metallic parts was becoming a pattern on her skin.

Mary-Ann took the gun and swung it at a tree, chipping off the bark. She attacked the tree over and over, using the gun as her bludgeoning tool. Somewhere in her unnecessary attack she began to cry. She could feel the hot tears on her face, but did not stop. She stood straight up again and held her gun, arms locked and fired a bullet into the tree. She'd wasted a bullet.

Breathing hard, she collapsed into a ball on the floor. Mary-Ann held her head in her hands, pulling her hair slightly and screamed. She looked down at the forest floor through her hair and tears.

"I can't even shoot someone. She looked at me like I wasn't even worth the time it would take to cut my throat. Am I so worthless? I can't even protect myself. It should never have been me. I shouldn't have been the one to survive. I don't have what it takes to make it out. Why can't I do ANYTHING? Anything right."

She looked over at the girl, breathing steady and lying still.

"I can't shoot her. I'm not even strong enough to shoot a girl who's out cold."

She thought of RJ again. Would he even want her to take a shot at a collapsed girl? She didn't think he would.


Mary-Ann sighed deep. She rubbed her eyes and looked down at the other girl.

"Lucky..." she echoed back at her.

((Mary-Ann Warren continued in This Side of Paradise ))