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I Know What My Fortune Is
Like, chick seemed still pretty chill and all. Didn't look like she had even really picked up all the stuff Johnny had said, asking what was up and shit. Maybe she'd been too distracted with her grub. Nice.

Aiden shifted his position, leaned forward a bit, cupped his chin in one of his hands. Light on her looked like it had gotten a little dimmer, fire was prolly in need of a little refueling. Wasn't gonna be him who'd be bringing the heat though, too comfortable sittin' down on his ass at that moment.

Hey, Cris was there too, didn't even notice him making an entrance. Too busy tryin' not to be an awkward ant, though danger was already over, to be sure. He sure as hell wouldn't repeat what Weedman had said, nope. Could just talk to Fi all relaxed now, coast clear and stuff.

"Wanted to ask ya the same." He smiled a little wider, stroking his chin. Maybe getting up wasn't such a bad idea after all, claimin' a place next to her or something, easier to chat. Kinda inconvenient, talkin' to her from half a mile away, might have as well send her a text message.

"You don't mind me comin' over and sittin' next to you, right? Kinda getting cold here and that fire looks like it knows a thing or two about how to help me out with that."

Needles and Pins
Aiden loved being surprised, so he did. Ranging from birthday presents to getting himself pushed into a pool on some party, it was all there. This wasn't an exception, nope.
He jumped back a little when a blue gal materialized in front of him out of the goddamn blue. "Holy...!"

Girl raised up her hands, he followed her example, like he was standin' in front of the weirdest mirror he had ever seen. Took his confusy-fused brain another sec to realize he had just almost headbutted straight into Raina. His first instinct after raising his hands to the sky was showing off his usual grin, though he had no fucking time to do anything else after that, not even get a greeting out or anything.

Nother faced turned the corner, no face, more like a mug. Familiar mug though, the best kind of mug. Fucking Johnny boy, right there in the flesh, on his own odyssey featuring Raina - and apparently Alice too, caught her face somewhere behind the other two.

Yeah, Aiden was a little slow and shit. All he really did was getting his grin going even wider and lowering his hands back down, then he already had his head pressed to the dude's chest. "What the what-"

Still hadn't gotten a single sentence out. He did react now though, started to chuckle, then laugh like he had just witnessed the best joke since fried ice cream. Just, fuck, this was too much, he had to let it out. Whole situation was just goddamn hilarious, Johnny of all people going Sharon on his ass, hugging him and all. Unlike her, Johnny had a distinct note of musk going for him though aka bein' sweaty and stuff. "Hey, glad to see you too man. " Got that one out between two snorts.

He wriggled free, still schuckling a bit, then went back two steps, get himself some breathing room. Yup, goold old Johnny right there, Raina and Alice in tow. Nice, really fucking nice. Finally ran into some people with some sense in here, no offense to any of the others he'd met, but still. He knew Johnny was a smart cookie - yeah, not with life choices and shit, but he had good instincts, knew a little bout something, so he had to have figured this whole shit out. Then again, why'd he hug him like that if that was the case? Kinda overreaction there. Didn't make sense if - well, he was gonna find out sooner or later.

"Hi guys." He gave them a two fingered salute. "Nice runnin' into you. Teamed up with Scarley here, but yeah, you prolly already figured." He snuffled, going for his bag that he had dropped when Johnny pulled him close, then looked up to them while still squatted on the ground.

"You lookin' for the exit on this place too?"

The Land Across
((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued from The Strange Case of Nadia))

There was a bridge in the distance. Beyond that, he could see water, lots and lots of water. So it was true, even though he had never really doubted it. Granted he had only had a limited look around yet, but it seemed like this was an island he was on, some island somewhere. He didn't know where exactly and he didn't really care either, it changed nothing about the current situation.

Maxim looked back over his shoulder, back at the building which he had just escaped. Towering and portentous, one large death trap. He had to leave it, it had been the right call, absolutely.

It hadn't taken too long for him to find out. Roaming around on that floor he was on, ignoring the whispers and distant voices around him, it was only a matter of time until he discovered those rusty old signs, bearing the name of the institution. The name itself didn't matter, of course, only what it was. An asylum, a place to keep and imprison those who were considered insane. By the standards of shrinks at least and by extension, society.

That revelation, he had not taken too well. Never mind the fact that he had been trapped in a ludicrous game of killing, denied any chance of escape, well, almost. Bad as it was, it had not shaken him to the bone, it had left him in a state rational enough for him to function and assert his situation logically. Not that though.

An asylum of all places. He'd have laughed back then, if only he hadn't been as horrified. The irony hadn't escaped him, him ending up there. He wondered if Dr. Woolsey was watching this or any of his previous 'therapists'. People who had tried to help him, convince him he was not completely normal and had to change, adapt, in some way. Become more social. The thought alone brought back all of that long forgotten spite.

Maybe they were watching, had watched him from the very start. Snickering to themselves, 'Oh, I always knew he'd end up in a madhouse.' He couldn't bear the thought. Potentially dying in there, being ambushed and ended. Not in an asylum, not there, all but there. If he was going to die, he wouldn't do so in there.

So he had left, fled, really. Looked for an exit and soon found it and then decided to get as much distance between him and that wretched place as possible.

By now, his rational senses had returned to him, of course. And in retrospect, his decision hadn't been that bad after all, so he thought. A place the size of that asylum was bound to attract more people, flocking to the place like pilgrims. With them, some of the more dangerous brand would have come, no doubt. Sooner or later, a killer would find his way in there, looking for victims. Someone would start going berserk, it was inevitable. He wasn't dumb, he knew those goddamned terrorists had it all planned out. 'There Will Be Blood.' Shame he wouldn't have an opportunity to watch that here. Maybe never again.

Either way, getting as far away from that place as possible was probably the most prudent move, for now. And now there was that bridge ahead. He pondered about crossing it. There were other places to go, of course. Still, he liked that particular option. Even though he had no idea where it would lead him. He looked back again, back at the asylum.

No, it had to be that way. Maybe there was a place beyond that bridge, some place he could be by himself, hide until all of this was over. Maybe even remain the only one alive while everyone else merrily slaughtered each other. Even Cristo.

Maxim winced a little. It couldn't be helped. He had to consider the very likely possibility that he was never going to speak a word to him again. Nostalgia was nothing to dwell on now. He had to keep going. As much as he would have liked to lay down and-

He started walking towards the bridge. Whatever was ahead, he'd accept it. Try to make the best of it. And maybe succeed.

((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued in Good Omens))

The Strange Case of Nadia
Maxim silently watched as Jasmine took off. He almost wanted to smile a little, seeing how well it had worked out for him. This entire situation could have gone south in more than a few ways, but now he was by himself again, left with nothing but his own thoughts to keep him company. Now that was a status quo he'd like to see lasting.

Still, he was now left with new choices, new possibilites. He wouldn't actively try and follow either of the girls, of course not. Still, staying inside here was not that desirable either. It was dark and secluded, yes, but as a matter of fact, people had found him in here before, so it was safe to assume others would too, eventually. And if he was unlucky, those new people would be far less benign. No, he had to move out of there, sooner or later. Maybe try and look for other supplies, weapons, anything. That would inevitably mean running into more of his peers, but that was a risk he was willing to take. He had gotten rid of those two, he could do so again.

Not immediately, he'd risk meeting Nadia or Jasmine again and being accused of stalking them. He didn't need that. He could wait a few minutes, then make his move.

Sounded like a plan. Though he still had no idea what exactly this building was or where any of the others were, where he wanted to go and how he was meant to defend himself from any potential attacks, he felt sort of confident. Even with the people watching. They could watch, they could judge. It didn't matter this time, society's standards and norms were no longer important in any way.

Felt sort of nice. Liberating, in a way. Though of course, if he had been given the choice, he'd have chosen to stay at home in retrospect. Wake up and find out it had only been a dream or something like that. Then again, had it been a dream, he'd have most likely been given a better weapon than that useless bow.

((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued in The Land Across))

The Strange Case of Nadia
Maxim almost let out a heavy sigh. Really, he definitely didn't regret letting Nadia leave now. Even in a situation such as this, where their lives were on the line, even now those two still found time to throw snarky comments at each other. Immature. Only further proving his point, he didn't need either of them or rather, he didn't need them and he didn't want to either.

He still didn't say a word even as Nadia left, instead looking down at his bag and fondling with the zipper. Had started to get somewhat thirsty. Then again, was it smart to drink in the presence of another person? Maybe they'd ask him to have some of it as well. Maybe they had already finished theirs, had it stolen or anything. Resources were always something that would only cause conflicts in a situation such as this. He had to wait.

He retracted his hand from the zipper, now staring at Jasmine. She looked angry, somewhat. Visible even in the darkness. He couldn't use that. If this was already enough to rile her up, then there was no way she'd keep her cool in more serious situations. In other words, she was useless to him. Harsh as that sounded, but it was the truth. Now, the only question remaining was whether or not she was going to leave first or if he had to do it.

Maybe he could just...scare her away? Not scare, creep her out or something like that. He had been told before he was a creep. Just standing around, being by himself. People thought so. Maybe they were morons, maybe they had a point. Either way, it could come in handy now.

Maxim simply stood there, keeping his mouth shut. All he did was stare at Jasmine with a neutral look on his face. Neutral except for that perpetual frown engraved on his brow.

Mr. Bliss
Had he really not been thorough in his search? Seemed like it. According to the info desk lady, there was still one copy available within the library, not lent out. Maybe he had been sloppy during his initial search and his ensuing anger over it had caused him to become even less thorough after. Possible. Not likely, but possible.

It was far more likely that some neglectful jackass had put the copy in question back on the wrong shelf, into the wrong section, left it lying around somewhere, one of those. Wasn't too much of a stretch. There were tons of books lying around in some of the reading corners, didn't help that the personnel in the library apparently had better things to do than putting those back where they belonged. Maxim huffed, more annoyed than angered.

At least there was hope now. There was one copy of that damned book somewhere in there and he was going to find it. Seek and you shall find. Almost sounded like something out of the bible. Then again, he hadn't read it and wasn't ever going to, so just an assumption, really.

Rubbing the underside of his eye with two fingers, Maxim began looking around. He'd check the reading corners first, seemed like the most promising approach. At least the place wasn't too crowded on this day. Some isolated gents here and there, a mother and her son cheerfully yacking about in the children's corner. Fairly unlikely that someone had taken the book over there.

He approached the table section. Only two people there, some middle-aged woman with a grotesquely painted face and someone - oh, it was Brendan. Always sitting at the desk behind his in math class. Only thing he ever found to be noticeable about him, really. That and his sort of good looks. Could probably even be considered attractive. Not important.

Seeing as how the two of them had only ever exchanged a couple of words, he saw no reason for him to greet his classmate, especially with him still searching that goddamn book. He scanned the tables, went over the few scattered copies lying around. Huh, The Prince by Machiavelli. His grandfather had told him about it, something to consider putting on his list. Not today though.

Nothing, no Hobbit on those tables. Finding this damn thing seemed to be just as tricky as finding an actual hobbit in a cave or wherever those critters lived. He sighed. An all seeing eye would have come in handy right about now.
"Ganz, ganz toll." It was no habit of his to mutter to himself, but when he did, he was usually pretty pissed off.

The Strange Case of Nadia
They both made valid points, basically summing up exactly what had gone through his head seconds earlier. Safety in numbers, did that really apply here? Especially considering none of them had a suitable weapon to defend themselves with, or at least claimed that to be the case.

Given the choice between acquiring a weapon for himself - be it a gun, a knife or even a club - and teaming up with those two girls he barely knew, he'd have chosen the former any day, no doubt about it. Wouldn't that have been convenient, him seeking refuge in here and having found a firearm of some sort. Sure, he had never used one of those before, but they were a tool of deterrence at least, provided their owner with security. Even the mere thought of him having a gun in his bag would have made him feel somewhat at ease. A sure way to make sure nobody would try to bother him.

Of course, all that was mere fantasy. A welcome escape from the reality of the current situation, but a fantasy nonetheless. Again, he felt no urge whatsoever to try and convince Nadia that Jasmine was right. Ah, there it was, he had remembered her name. Nadia, of course. Had taken him a while to realize it, remember what little he knew of her.

Even so, this didn't change anything. She seemed to have made up her mind. Stubborn or savvy, whatever she was, she had made up her mind. He didn't need to convince her to stay, he didn't even want to. No, she was free to do her own thing, just as he was. Even if she'd wind up dead or worse, whatever that was. Maimed, maybe.

He winced a little, deciding to suppress those less than pleasant thoughts. Softly chewing on his lip, he continued watching. And he had to be honest with himself: Part of him was hoping that Jasmine would follow Nadia's example and leave him be as well. No, not only part of him. He was certain now, certain that he had made up his mind as well.

God Help the Outcasts
What the fuck. No, c'mon, this couldn't be right. What the fuck.

Of all the people, all the douches and morons and losers and the decent people walking around, she had to run into her, into this goddamn bitch. Even now, even when she knew they were both in a completely fucked up situation like this and as good as dead, she still couldn't help but feel repulsed just looking at Caedyn. Why her, why did she have to wake up here? It just wasn't fair.

At least she was crawling on the ground in front of her, humiliated, like the dirt she was. Jane felt a very strong urge rise in her, to just kick her and leave. Tempting, but no, she wasn't going to do that. No way she'd stoop down to Caedyn's level.

Ugh. Her words, five words out of her mouth and she already felt pissed off. She didn't need to listen to her, she could just go away, leave that hateful piece of garbage to herself. But it was just...what she was saying, she couldn't just ignore that, walk away without talking back at her. The hell was she implying? That Jane was going to kill her? That Caedyn was the victim in this, a poor soul about to be slaughtered by her, the evil wench. Jeez, she couldn't have made up a worse script if she had tried.

She wasn't just going to take that. She had the opportunity to put that bitch back in her place now, now was the best of times. No one around her to judge, no one to tell her to cool it or something. So what if it was being broadcasted? Hell if she cared. Nobody would interrupt her now.

She took a step closer towards Caedyn, starting to perceive a foul smell in the air. God, it smelled like actual shit. Maybe it was from all the bullshit that Caedyn was spewing.

"What the actual fuck are you talking about? Me, kill you?" She couldn't resist, she raised a hand to point at the girl in front of her with her index finger. Overly dramatic, but who gave a toss?

"Don't act like you're scared or anything, spare me your games. You just want to look like the good guy in front of all these cameras here, right? Boo hoo, poor Caedyn, poor poor Caedyn." Jane wiped away an imaginary tear with one fist.
"Give me a break! You can go and pull that anywhere else, be my fucking guest. But not with me, got it? I don't wanna be here with you, same boat or not. I'm not gonna offer you help or anything, screw that. You don't need my help and I don't need yours, we both freakin' know that."

Her chest started to hurt. She took heavy breaths; wanted to place a hand over her own heart, try to calm herself. No, that would have made her look foolish. Weak. Not in front of Caedyn.

"I'm gonna walk the other way now and I couldn't care less what you'll be doing. So have fun drowning in your self-pity, guess that'll count as suicide or something." That was good. Made her feel content with herself.

Jane turned away, looking into the direction that she had originally walked towards. Someone else was there, waiting for her. Someone who wasn't Caedyn. Even goddamn Bradley was fine with her at this point.

Needles and Pins
Some actual progress, huh. Like, got her to smile a little, so he had. Hugs really did do wonders, who needed therapy sessions or some mumbo jumbo, this was how it was done. Didn't even feel that awkward, nope. Kinda pleasant, actually, like. Maybe it made up for the lack of Sharon? Nah, that sounded shitty, like Scarlett was just a replacement or something. Bullshit, that wasn't true.

Really though, seeing her brighten up a little was worth any effort. Actually had done something useful, so he had, made him feel good about himself, about this whole thing. Step one accomplished, only needed to actually get out of this dump of a dump now. Maybe he'd even hang out with Scarley more often after this. Yeah, sounded legit, sounded like a plan. Got him a bit pumped, actually.

"See, that's the spirit. We're better than this, you'n me. Takes more than this to make us wet our knickers, right?"

He softly bumped her with his elbow, chuckling. Yeah, he got this, no problemo. "Let's keep going. Got a hunch the stairs are right around the corner." He didn't, not really, but telling her that woulda been much less helpful, to be sure.

The Strange Case of Nadia
Knuckle things. Did she mean gloves? No, probably not, that description was far too inconvenient to describe gloves. What else was there? Knuckles, knuckles - brass knuckles, right. Something to fortify punches with. Certainly nothing he needed to be afraid of. Granted Jasmine was telling the truth, he was safe, at least for now. She didn't sound like she was lying. So maybe his fears had been unfounded after all. Giving her the benefit of the doubt was a luxury, but one he was willing to afford. For now.

He opened his mouth to say something else, but was interrupted by Nadia. If he read her statement right, she was intending to leave. All by herself too, judging from the way she put it.

Maxim furrowed his brow, even more so than usual. He had to think this one through. One the one hand, these girls seemed friendly, or at least harmless. Sticking with both or either of them was an option. But really, simply because they weren't his enemies didn't mean they were his allies. So maybe staying by himself for now was the best solution after all?

Nadia certainly seemed to think so. If she was going to leave, he wasn't going to stop her. He certainly wasn't going to be the one to propose they all team up either. If they were willing to, they'd have to say so themselves. If not, tough luck.

He decided to keep quiet, save his breath for now. So he just continued standing there, watching the other two. A thought went through his head, almost in passing. If all of this was as their kidnappers had said, if there was no escape for them, then the only scenario in which he'd live was one where these two were dead. He wouldn't share this thought with them though, of course not. It alone was enough to send a shiver down his spine.

I Know What My Fortune Is
Aiden could dig Johnny gettin' close-up, all buddy buddy like. Yep, definitely had a couple beers in him by now, suspicion confirmed. He could dig that too. 'Beaky one.' Hadn't heard that one before. Yup, diggin' it. That last one though, that last move, going Brute on him, stab him in the back like he did Caesar? Oh, he was not digging that one, not one bit.

He was just sitting there for a second or two, prolly lookin' like the last idiot on earth. Like, any other situation, he'd have given props to Johnny Boy, sure as shit. Not now though, not like that.

"Motherfucker, what are you...?" All he could get out before Johnny stumbled his boozy ass away. Aiden stared after him for another five seconds or so, not even realizing he was spilling his beer, holding it all askew and shit. He only realized it when he felt his knee gettin' suspiciously wet out of nowhere.

"Ah, fuck!"

He pressed that one out between clenched teeth, didn't want to draw more attention to himself, already bad enough that Johnny - Shit, too late, she was already looking at him. Yup, had Fi's full attention now, so he had. Like...fuckin' Johnny man. Had prolly planned that one, no dizzedi doubt about it, he had set him up and Aiden had fallen for it, hook, line and sinker. He'd pay him back alright. No way he'd just get away with that one.

Still though, had to play it off now. Like, sure, he could just go ahead and tell Fi now, but really, not the right place for it. Good for getting his ass drunk, good for chattin' it up with some peeps, good for getting trolled too, apparently. Not for having that convo though, nope. So yeah, playin' it off was the way to go here.

He looked back at Fi. He smiled a little, tried to go for a grin. Put the beer down, just in case. Looked like she had her mouth full. Greedy chick, that one. He already knew that. Finally, he waved at her, tryin' to look all relaxed.


SOTF Grand Map of Doom! v6
This display of efficiency makes me a very happy Rorick. Really though, amazing work on this, keep up the good work.

I'll be happy with any shade of yellow.

The Strange Case of Nadia
Maxim licked his lips. If what Jasime said was true, there was at least one other person nearby, the possibility of a fight having taken place was not out of question yet. Damn.

Unless of course, she had just lied to them. Did she have a reason to, though? Not unless she had caused somebody harm herself and was trying to cover it up now. Again, only an eventuality. He wasn't even sure if he preferred that to be the truth or the former possibility. Either way, he had to remain cautious. It was getting tedious, he wished he could have simply slipped away into a secure corner somewhere, stay there and wait by himself. This was much more stressful He wouldn't have minded both of the girls leaving him to himself, though his common sense told him it was still better to move in a group.

One way or another, he couldn't completely trust the new arrival yet. Nadia on the other hand, she didn't seem like trouble. Now granted his insight into human nature wasn't the best one, but still, he had a hunch. He'd focus his suspicion on Jasmine for now. Hopefully he wasn't going to regret this.

"Also, are you armed? With a weapon you know how to use?"

He wasn't going to tell her that both he and Nadia were lacking such a weapon, too early to lift the lid on that. Jasmine was free to think of them as potential threats. Maybe that would even prove to be useful.

Needles and Pins
Aiden could feel his heart shrinking in his chest, like someone had put it into a vise, all the goddamn way. Goddamn it, had been obvious that Scarlett was feeling down and glum and all, but shit, this was just so freakin' hard to watch. Even though he didn't know her that well, no bff level or anything, it still was just depressing seeing that usually so cheerful lass like this, so it was. Had been a real long time since he had last seen a girl hitting rock bottom like this, and this time, it was even kinda his fault.

He remembered Sharon, how she had broken down crying that one afternoon, only time in his life he had ever seen her cry. Back then, he had gone with his instincts, try and make her pain fly away, make that smile return to her face. He had hugged her and it had worked. Hugging always solved things. Sort of. It made things better. Yeah, Scarley wasn't his sis, already had gone over that earlier. Still, she was all down and needed some help, clear as crystal. Had to go for it.

Aiden hesitated for a second, reached out to her, then retracted his arm. What was he, some sorta cowardly ass prick? No, he was going to make this right. Show Scarlett she had nothing to worry about. He owed her. Carefully, he stepped closer to her, then laid his right hand on her shoulder, left one followed suit. Yeah, he was smaller than her, didn't matter. Didn't mean he couldn't make her feel safe. "Hey, look. Scarley..."

He pondered whether or not to do it for a sec, then exhaled and went in for it, hugging her from behind, carefully. Didn't want to get in too close, make her feel uncomfortable, so he made sure there was still some distance between their lower body parts. This had to work, it always did.

"Look, I see why you're like this, okay? I'm really goddamn sorry for making you feel worse and all, really, I'm like, so so sorry. But like...it will be alright, yeah? Please trust me."

He struggled to go on for a second. Already had told her that several times now, said it was all a sham, a hoax, a really bad fucking joke. She was still like this. Didn't believe him, so it seemed. He just had to calm her down for the moment, get them out of there and then she would have to see he was right, that there was no danger, nothing, nada. That it was all fake. The collars, Graham dying, even this pseudo abandoned wreck of a place. Why couldn't she believe him? It was so obvious. It had to be.

"Please, we're getting out of here, okay? I'll get you out of here, everybody else will be there too. We'll all drive outta this hellhole together and go back home and try to forget any of this ever happened, okay? Just please, don't cry, like, please. I don't know what else to say, like."

Goddamn it. Now he was getting all sentimental too. From zero to full blown emotional, tissues needed and stuff. Damn, just damn.

"It's not real, yeah? It's not. It's not."

Sing A Song Of Sixpence
He couldn't see, couldn't fucking see a thing. Something in front of his eyes, pressing against his face, something warm. Prolly that fucker's hand. Wanted to bite it, make it go away. He didn't though, instead just threw his head back and forth, tried to shake it off.

They were on the floor now, impact hadn't hurt him much, prolly hurt that fucking weasel way more, fucking deserved. Only the first bit of pain he was about to get, that son of a rancid ass mongrel bitch.

His own hands were clawin' at Bradley's face and neck, tried to get a good hold of him, choke all that fucking grub out of him, together with all of his oh-so-clever bullshit. Squeeze his eyeballs out or something, that fucker needed to fuckin' pay.

Aiden's leg were now intertwined with Bradley's, he was half-sitting on top of the motherfucker, though he barely even registered it. His mind was somewhere else, he was shakin' and trembling with anger and goddamn rage and things needed to die. Why'd he have to be such a fucking midget? Would have been fucking easy wiping the floor with the bastard otherwise.

Fuck it. He was still putting that shit stain down.

One of his hands stopped tugging at Bradley's shirt and went for the side of his head instead, pulling at his hair with full force.

"Fucking...fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!"

Needles and Pins
((Aiden Slattery continued from Imprimatura))

Like goddamn, this whole place was a dump. Trash and rubbish lying around left and right, no signs or nothing, just some depressing looking walls and hallway after hallway. Man, he was glad to get out of there. Scarlett didn't look to happy about any of this either. Prolly did her a favor gettin' her out as fast as he could.

Like, he kinda felt like he should have been really freakin' angry at whoever had pulled all this crap. Going through all this trouble to scare the livin' shit out of a bunch of teenie weenies, maybe givin' some of them paranoia for life, that stuff wasn't cool, not one bit. But really, he just wanted to get home again, share this weird ass story with his folks and siblings, then move on. Really, everything about this whole thing was made to look real, freakin' collars, goddamn Graham fakin' to bite it, like, shit. This was some professional work, so it was. Work of professional assholes, yeah. Would prolly catch themselves a whole nest of lawsuits once this whole thing was over.

Aiden stopped walking, looking at the walls left and right of him. Kinda looked like the place he had first woken up. Then again, hard to tell, with all the frickin' walls looking the same and shit, this was seriously frustrating. Had walked all the way back, all the way he walked into that musty ass dungeon thingie. The others were prolly still there, hiding or something, scared that some psyched out psycho with a chainsaw came after them or something. They'd figure out the truth soon enough. They had food and stuff too, so no big deal.

Still though, didn't help him with where the hell he was supposed to go. Stairs that led down had to be somewhere here, somewhere around here. Again, who the hell had thought it was a good idea to remove all the signs? Real fucking jokesters, these people who had set this up. Even thought of that, make him and the others run around the place like idiots. Bunch of pricks.

He scratched one side of his head, now looking at Scarlett, who was walking at his side. "Yeah, sorry about this; taking longer than I thought it would. Stairs have to be somewhere here though. Prolly won't be a long walk from there to the main exit."
He sighed, trying not to think about how his meds were still missin'. Main reason why he wanted to get the hell away from there and clear everything up. Had forgotten to take them once, result hadn't been pretty, nope nope nope.

Really hoped Scarlett wasn't scared or anything though. Poor girl still looked like she was buyin' into all of this. Made him feel bad, really, hurt to see her all down like this. Had to try and make her feel better, somehow.

"Hey, you alright by the way? Just asking, you still seem kinda anxious and all."

I Know What My Fortune Is
"Like, you make it sound all simple and shit..."

Aiden wiped his lips. Didn't like it when they were all wet like that, was fucking disgusting, so it was.

"But yeah, I think you're right, like, essentially. Makes sense and stuff."

He accepted the beer from Johnny, giving him a grateful nod. He didn't usually go and get himself all smashed when he had any sort of troubles, but the opportunity was there, the booze was free, so no regrets there. Johnny Boy knew his stuff, after all, helluva lot better than he himself did.

"I mean, yeah, will be awkward talkin' to her about it. Like 'Hey, I know we fucked before, still kinda wanna fuck ya, but let's not fuck, alright?' Will have to work a little more on that one, doesn't sound quite operational yet."

He shot a goofy smirk at Johnny before taking a gulp of his second bottle of beer. Taste didn't get better. Didn't expect anything else, really. Still, wouldn't be his last one tonight, nope. Especially when he had some 'titties to forget', as Weedman put it. Damn, he liked that one. Some quality catchphrase material right there. Shouldn't let his mom or sis catch him say that one though.

"Thanks man. Like, you had lotsa opportunities to be shitty about this, make fun of me and stuff. Know it musta been hard to resist." Aiden raised his beer again.

"Here's to, uh...fuck, kinda wanna say friendship, but that sounds lame as hell, you with me?" He snickered. "Nah, here's to gettin' shitfaced, can't go wrong with that one."

The Strange Case of Nadia
Jasmine, that name did ring a bell. No one he was too familiar with, or even familiar at all, but he had a face to associate with that name, granted he couldn't see much of her face in that moment.

He audibly breathed out, had been holding his breath for far too long now. She probably meant no trouble, not from what she seemed like, on first glance. Still, looks were deceiving, especially when the person in question was half covered in shadows. No reason to let his guard down yet. Maybe there were more with her, others that were staying behind, hiding or something like that. He had to consider every possibility.

Maxim moved forward, now standing next to Nadia, his bag in one hand. He thought about pretending to be armed, drive her away, maybe scare her. But that would have been more counterproductive than anything, make Jasmine run away and tell others about the 'dangerous, armed, tall German'. Yikes, now there was a cliché.

No, he'd instead ask the only logical thing that was important at the moment. Maybe it would clear things up, maybe not. Maybe it would produce more questions. Either way, it had to be asked. There was enough time for introductions later.

"You heard that loud noise from not too long ago too, right? Do you maybe know what caused it?" He was panting a bit, much to his chagrin. All that stress, it was starting to get to him. Not the best of times for that.

He exhaled again, then tilted his head to the side. "Did you cause it?"

Good old Scarley Scarls. Of course she was the first one to come to his side, girl was always good to make peeps feel better. Aiden couldn't help but feel a tiny bit touched, not tearing-up-worthy or anything, but still, it did feel nice. Meant she trusted him or something like that. Maybe she just wanted to be with him. Either way, sure made him feel less shitty, he'd have to thank her once they got out of the place.

He smiled back at her, thinking about patting her on the back for a moment, maybe even go all in for some hugging business. Nah, woulda looked kinda weird, maybe. She wasn't his sis, no permission to get all close and comfy there. "Thanks, appreciate it. Like really, thanks a whole bunch."

Other three though, no idea what they were gonna do. Like, stickin' to that whole story wasn't gonna help them any, all they had to do was follow him or something and they'd all sit in a bus back home soon enough. Still, if they wanted to hang around some more, that was their deal. Place was about as appealing as a back alley in New Jersey or some shit, so no real reason for them to stick around there. He wouldn't force them to come with him though, no way. Each to their own, that sorta business.

He waited until Barry finished talking, then shrugged. "I mean like, you can follow us and all, free country and stuff. Me, I'm gettin' out of here, no way I'm stickin' around any longer."

He gave each of the three others a quick glance again. Barry and Jon Jon, they'd figure out their shit soon enough, would prolly follow after a little chat with each other or something. The chick, he had no idea. Kinda creeped him out, really, what with her being all silent like that. She'd prolly follow the other two, so no reason to have a bad conscience there. He'd do his thing and so would they, all good.

"So for when you guys decide to bounce: Need to turn the corner I just came 'round." He pointed his thumb behind himself, over his shoulder. "Then go down the hallway, through all those gates, all the way to the end. Turn uh...right again, I'm pretty sure. Down another hallway, somewhere around there should be some stairs that go down. Missed them earlier, that's why I ended up here. No signs out there, so that sorta sucks." He cleared his throat. "Just some stuff that might come in handy."
He was ready to turn away and go back the way he came, but not before looking back at the other three one last time. "Look, all gonna be fine, okay? This isn't the real deal here, just isn't. See y'all later and don't get lost in here, alright? Wouldn't want to return home with three of our team missing, know what I'm sayin'?"

He snickered, then gave them a parting nod. Still hadn't lost his sense o' humor, nope. Wouldn't get all jittery over fuckery like this, no way. He was fine, they'd be fine too.

He turned his head to Scarlett, giving her a nod as well, inviting this time. "Let's go, yeah?"

((Aiden Slattery continued in Needles and Pins))

The Strange Case of Nadia
No weapon on her either, that made two of them. Granted she was telling the truth and didn't plan to gut him once he let his guard down. That was unlikely though, almost ridiculous. So all they could for the moment was wait, wait and s-

There it was again, that horrible creaking, announcing yet another unwanted visitor. Maxim tensed up, clutching his bag even tighter. He took another step back, his eyes gazing at the small gap of light that grew bigger as the door opened up. If he was really, really unlucky, this could be it. If whoever was entering the room had both a somewhat decent weapon or tool on him and malicious intent at that, there was little he could do. A small part of his mind was ready to say goodbye to the world, though the rest stubbornly held onto it. He wasn't giving up. He'd defend his life with his bare hands if he had to, no matter how bad the odds were looking.

The girl said something, took the initiative. Reasonable. Maybe it would have an effect, maybe not. Maybe it wouldn't be necessary at all. He himself did nothing of any sort, just remained standing where he was. Once again.