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Mr. Bliss
"I'm fine." Maxim tried to sound firm, but not in any way threatening or even annoyed. It was best not to antagonize this one, given what he had in mind.

Brendan's performance was a pitiful one, really. Unless Maxim had some intimidating quality to himself that he had never discovered until now, the other boy's reaction was rather peculiar, to put it simply. Not like he had given Brendan any reason to become nervous. And he had to be honest with himself, had he not been in such an annoyed state after searching for that damn book for ages, he probably would have found this display of shyness sort of oddly charming. Well, almost. The other part of him found it rather bothersome, but either way, he had to somehow obtain that thing Brendan was currently holding.

Maxim slowly sat down, fixing his gaze on Brendan's face the entire time. Yes, he couldn't deny it, he did sort of feel bad. He had probably disturbed the guy's attempt at reading the thing, but oh well. He had to be sure of his priorities. Respecting the other boy's personal space was not one of them at the moment.

"I was just looking around a bit, nothing specific, just looking for a good read." He glanced towards The Hobbit for a split second, then back at Brendan, chewing on his bottom lip. "What are you here for? Doing some research?"

Prince of Nothing
Maxim let out a sigh. He was beginning to feel weary and all this incessant talking was doing nothing to keep him focused. This Lili, she seemed to have a habit of babbling. Either that or it was her somewhat bubbly attitude that threw him off. The casualness in her tone, that overall sense of optimism and carelessness she exuded. He didn't like it. Neither did he like the enthusiasm with which she presented that - thing. A toy lightsaber, apparently. Hell, the world was coming to an end out there and she got all excited over a toy. It was enough to make him grimace slightly in disgust.

Or maybe he was reading too much into things, misjudging her because of his current state of mind. Being thirsty didn't help much either. Whatever was the case, he decided it was time to try and hatch out and actual plan of some sort, they couldn't just stand around and have a hen party like this forever.

Benjamin spoke up before he could though and turned his head towards him again. Now this was more like it. He seemed to at least try to steer the group a little. Maxim could appreciate the effort at least.

"You might be right, it is getting late." He glanced towards the entrance, crossing his arms. Sunlight was slowly dying out. Yeah, no time to be going out again, too easy to get ambushed out there in the soon-to-be-dark. Still, he had to disagree on waiting to search the place until morning.

"I don't know about you, but I am sure I recall having a flashlight in here." He patted the bag in question. "We could still give this place a search, the sooner we get things done, the better." He cleared his throat, pausing for a moment to recollect his thoughts, then continued. "Right, your question. See the room back there with the open door? Seems decent enough, has a bed in it and maybe a bathroom as well, haven't checked yet. Might be more rooms like it in here, so I think we shouldn't have to worry about that."

It seemed almost strange, really. The prospect of just going to sleep at night, despite knowing what their situation was like. He recounted all the times he had read stories with people being stabbed in their sleep. Or shot or strangled, suffocated, enough ways to do it. Point was, it wasn't safe, so something had to be done about it.

"Searching aside, I say we should have someone keep watch during the night, yes? Maybe sleep in shifts, something like that. Seems like the smart thing to do."

Prince of Nothing
Maxim simply nodded in Lili's direction. That would have to do for courtesies. She and Ben were friends, good enough for him. The ally of an ally is an ally, something along those lines. Though he had slight doubts about how much use she'd actually bring to the table. Didn't look like much, from a physical standpoint. Maybe she had brains to make up for it.

He listened and watched the other two in silence, waiting until they had said their piece. Kimiko. Right, the mute, even he knew about her. They didn't say that still waters run deep for no reason. He'd keep Benjamin's warning in mind, that was for sure.

Maxim looked at Lili. "To answer your question, our friend Ben here is not the first of his kind I've come across so far." Was he trying to make a joke? Maybe, didn't seem like one the other two would be able to pick up on it though. Probably better to simply get to the point.

"Ben Fields, met him not too long ago. Maybe ten minutes. Seemed a little sketchy to me, to be perfectly honest." He brought a finger to his throat, idly stroking it with his thumb. He was really starting to feel thirsty. Maybe, if he got lucky, he could ask for a swig or two from Ben's water supply, keep his own untouched for as long as possible.

"I'd avoid him. Same with the asylum, the big building across the bridge." The thought of it alone made him feel a little uneasy once more, as much as he hated to admit it. He quickly continued speaking.

"Got nothing other than that. Didn't find anything useful so far either. Though who knows, maybe this place here holds some useful stuff." Some rare loot. Just as long as there'd be no bossfight.

Jesus, he had to snap out of that jokey mood.

Prince of Nothing
Maxim's father often told him that taking risks was not something one had to necessarily avoid. One of his former friends had told him the same, years or so ago, namely that he 'should stop being such a pussy and grow a pair.' Maxim certainly didn't miss him.

Still, he had to agree with both in this case: Whoever was sitting against the wall there, being busy with his bag, did seem familiar to him. He couldn't quite make out his facial features yet, what with him not looking at him and the hallway being poorly lit., but something about him seemed -

There was another noise, some other noise coming from up ahead. Maxim jumped a little and lifted his head, breaking his gaze away from the familiar looking boy and towards where the noise came from. He immediately spotted them, spotted her, some girl coming straight through the entrance. He didn't recognize her, but he didn't need to since the first thing that caught his attention was a longish object in her hands, some sort of stick or bludgeon; he couldn't exactly make out what it was, but it didn't look harmless.

He instinctively took a step back, pondering about what to do. The girl herself didn't look particularly intimidating. Rather small, compared to his own size, skinny too. In theory, there was no way she was going to overpower both him and that other boy with only that stick thing she had. Unless of course, it was a trap and that other boy was with her and -

The other boy reacted now. It seemed like he was just as surprised as Maxim was. His movements were hasty, clumsy, supporting himself against the wall, stumbling around and - hold on, was that Benjamin?

He had only gotten a brief look at his face, but yes, it did look like it. No wonder he had seemed familiar, it was Ben. Seemed he was lucky. He could put that guy under the category 'friendly acquaintances' at least. If that girl had any bad intentions, he and Ben could easily work together to stop her from-

Well, never mind. Didn't seem to be necessary. Apparently, Benjamin knew that other girl as well, judging from his reaction. Jeez, the guy certainly was happy.

Maxim made no effort to show his own relief, instead just taking a few steps forward, until he was only a few feet away from his friend. He limply raised a hand as a greeting. "Hey."

He glanced over Ben's shoulder, giving the other arrival a skeptical look. "She a friend of yours?"

Three sentences about your kid: Critique experiment.
Well, lambs to the slaughter. Lemme hear your thoughts on Aiden Slattery.

Little Boy Blue
((Aiden Slattery continued from łB))

Aiden was a tiny, tiny guy. Smaller than everyone else ever since elementary school, Beaks the Dwarf, Beaks the Leprechaun, no name in the goddamn world he hadn't been called back then. Or sometimes even today. But that hadn't been able to stop him this time. He owed her.

He had no clue how long he had been sitting there earlier, holding her, thinking that somehow, somehow it was all gonna turn out fine, like some sort of fuckin' fairy tale. It would have been fair, only fair. She never hurt anyone. She saved his life. Gave hers for that. She deserved to come back from that.

Aiden had always thought that there was some sort of justice present in the world; wasn't even sure how, just floating above everybody's heads maybe, something like that. But he had always believed that somehow, life was fair. But it wasn't, it goddamn fuckin' wasn't. Not like this. This wasn't justice, this wasn't fair, this was just so, so goddamn wrong. Fuckin' everything.

He was sitting against one of the walls in the room, uncomfortable as fuck but - at least he could watch over her from here. Over Scarls.

No idea how long it had taken him. Eventually, he had gotten up, let her down on the ground, gently, all gently. Didn't want to hurt her. Maybe she'd feel it. Wherever it was she was at. So he hadn't wanted to hurt her.

He had wandered in circles, just looking at nothing, thinking about nothing. His face had been sticky, dried up. There hadn't been enough water left inside of him, he hadn't been able to cry anymore. He had wanted to, all he had wanted to do was that. Fuck if it did no good to him, fuck all that. He had just wanted to cry, but he couldn't even do that. Nothing was fair anymore.

Of course, it had to happen sooner or later. His thoughts got stuck in a messed up corner, smell of the blood got to him, everything just combining and then he just had to go and throw up. Had ran a good bit for that, down the hallway. He couldn't have done that near her, no way. Had searched himself a corner where he was hidden from all sight and then he had just hurled, hurled and hurled until he had felt like even his stomach was dead.

No idea how long ago that had been. He was sitting there now. Watching her, making sure she was comfortable like that. There on that scabby mattress. She deserved more. But that fuckin' thing was all he had been able to find for her.

Aiden was a tiny guy. But even so, even fuckin' so...he couldn't have just let her be like that, right? It wasn't right, just wasn't. Just lying around in that hallway, in a fuckin' dried up pool of fuckin' -

The thought alone made him shiver again and he instinctively covered his mouth. But it was fine, he had done it. All good now.

He had decided to at least make sure she wouldn't stay like that. Couldn't remember a single funeral in his life. Prolly because he had never been on one, except grandpa's. Mom had always told him about it, how he had been standing in front of the opened coffin, all small like that, not even knowing what the fuck was going on. Like, of course he didn't know back then, he had been three years old or something. He didn't remember a goddamn thing about it.

Now though, now he knew. And he knew that you couldn't just leave someone like that, let them lay around like...Fuck, god, there it was again. That fuckin' urge to cry, but he couldn't do that now. He had to protect her now, try and be a man. Protect her. Better than he had before.

He hadn't counted how many times he had tried, how many goddamn times he had been forced to let her down again until finally, finally he had been able to lift her up. She wasn't that tall. Taller than him, yeah, but like, still smaller somehow. Just Scarls, little old Scarls, so goddamn small and innocent and just - just - just Scarls.

He had looked through all the rooms before that. Looked for a good spot. Every room had one of those rickety lookin' cots, mattress on top. One of the rooms had looked fuckin' scary. Like some sort of savage fuckin' animal had been held in there. No way he'd bring Scarls in there.

That one room had looked decent enough. The one he was in right now. The one they were in. Again, taken him many tries, so many fucking tries. But he had done it. Cot wasn't too far above the floor, so not that hard to do. He had been careful, of course. Didn't want Scarls to hit her head or legs or anything somewhere, didn't want to hurt her, didn't want her to feel any more damn pain.

She was lying on top of that mattress now. Lying on her back. He had arranged her arms and hands so they were both resting on her stomach. Had seen that in a movie once. It was supposed to look like that, right? How it had to be done, how you made sure those people were comfortable for the afterlife. Scarls, Scarls, she had to be comfortable now. She could sleep in peace, no cold hard floor for her to worry about now. No pool of blood. Just a place to rest. She must have been tired.

And he'd watch her. He'd make sure nobody would come and try to hurt her again. He had to do this. He had fucked up everything before. He had led her away from safety. From Barry and Jonathan and that other chick. They were prolly all safe now. Set up camp somewhere. Scarls could have been with them.

He had fucked everything up.

He wanted Scarls to just get up and maybe rub her eyes and tell him she had a good sleep. Smile at him again, just something to show she was okay. Just something. Was that asking too much?

Scarls. Scarlett. Scarley Scarls. Why couldn't she come back?

He watched her, watched her from where he was sittin' down on the floor, resting against the wall. He wouldn't go away. This was where he belonged now, where he'd have to make up for all of it. For fucking up. Maybe then she would forgive him.

"It'll be fine." He was whispering. Maybe she'd hear it. From somewhere. She had to be somewhere. Maybe she'd hear him.

"It'll be fine, Scarls. You - you don't have to be scared anymore, you follow me? It'll be fine."

He still looked at her, looked at her face, looked at it from the side. She was facing the ceiling. Like she was sleeping. She just looked so, so fuckin'...normal. Like nothing was wrong.

Aiden clenched his fist. Then the other too. He had to look away.

"I'm sorry, Scarls. Fuck, I'm... can you just say you forgive me?" He swallowed; the lump in his throat felt like he was going to choke on it any second. "Please, say something."

He didn't get a response.


((Aiden Slattery continued in Nuts in May))

Prince of Nothing
Maxim halted, mere feet away from the other door. Even going so far as to hold his own breath, which was proving to be not quite easy, given he was more than a little on edge, he tried to listen for any further noise coming from outside the room. Maybe he could tell whether or not the other person was approaching.

The voice had stopped shouting. Probably an indicator that whoever was there was now assuming to be alone. No footsteps either, just a muffled noise that was over too quickly for Maxim to determine what it was. Could it be, had the other boy left the building again? No, no, the last bit of noise he had heard clearly came from within the hallway. Maybe they had gone into one of the other rooms?

He couldn't be sure and if he was perfectly honest with himself, that was starting to annoy him. It was the same as with that idiot Ben earlier, the same as with those two girls back in the asylum: Maxim perching and cowering in his corner, trying to hide, like he was a rodent trying to get away from a snake. He had no idea what was truly going on, always remained passive.

It had kept him safe so far, kept him sure. But as he had understood while talking to Ben earlier, staying by himself was not an option in the long run. He had to try and find someone useful, someone both trustworthy and armed, in the best of cases. Though maybe one would have to do.

Maxim looked back at the door he was moving towards. It promised safety at least. But nothing else.

His glance wandered back to the door he came through. The more risky choice. But the outcome was potentially far more rewarding. As for the risk? He had to consider that the boy in question had announced his presence when entering. If he really harbored murderous intent, then why do that? It didn't add up, another thing that made him lean more towards trying to come into contact with said person. Then again, what if that was his plan though, lure people out like that, make them believe he was harmless?

Maxim lowered his head a bit, exhaling audibly. He knew he had made his choice already. The odds were in his favor or so he felt. Unless he was unlucky again. Like he always was. But doubts wouldn't get him anywhere.

Taking an insecure step at first, it took him another five seconds until he managed to convince himself to follow through with his plan. He strolled towards the open door, rubbing his neck for a moment. He had to stay calm, this would be fine. He wouldn't be the one running this time, he had control of this.

He stepped out of the doorframe, bit his lip, the turned his head towards where the exit was.

Introduction Thread
Hey Malloon! Glad you made it in and looking forward to be able to work with you in V6. Hope there are some good times ahead for all of us.

Be officially welcomed!^^

これでいい。
He got a hold of her. Even though he winced at the stickiness of ...- he didn't let go, he couldn't, he had her in his arms now, he wasn't gonna let her go.

He promised. He couldn't let her go, no way. He had to - just had to hold her and maybe - maybe it was gonna be fine, just like this.

She looked so weak though. So goddamn vulnerable. Like she'd just - shatter or something.

"C'mon..." Did he even say it out loud? He couldn't tell, he thought he had moved his lips but didn't know if anything had come out. He felt like...-

Scarlett smiled. Kinda. Oh god, why, why, how could she smile like that? Looked so strange just - he remembered that smile from times when it had just been a smile, nothing else. He hadn't seen her smile much, really. But this time, he didn't even know, like.

He just wanted to protect her.

She said she was scared and Aiden felt like his face was going to melt or - it was too much, too fucking much.

He had bit down his lip until now, tried to distract himself with the pain, but there was just no way now - he had to close his eyes for a second, try and force the tears back in, but they just didn't stop, didn't stop, he couldn't keep them in.

He tried to speak again, tell her not to be afraid, that it was all going to be fine, but he only managed the same whimper as before. His jaw was hanging open. He could taste salt in his own mouth. His cheeks felt so dry and damp and-

Worth it - worth it to save...him? No, nonono, that couldn't be, she couldn't have died because of him, that wasn't how it was supposed to work, just fucking wasn't. Why, why why why fucking why?

Liked him.

She had liked him. God.

He had to clench his teeth now to not bite his own tongue. Like - he liked her too, of course he did, how couldn't he have?

She was Scarls, sweet old Scarley Scarls. She never did anything to hurt anyone. She deserved to be liked, to be loved. But her - how had she meant it? How'd she like him? Why was that so important to him now? He could barely even breathe, but somehow, that question was - he had to try and say something, he had to.

"Hey, hey Scarls?"

Scarlett's eyes were closed. Why were they still closed?

"Scarls?"

No. No way, no fucking way. This wasn't real. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be it, just like that.

"Hey, hey, hey, up here, listen!"

He shook her a bit. A few loose strands fell into her face. Her eyes were still-

"C'mon, please, wake up, wake up damnit!"

Speaking hurt. His voice was hoarse, like all water, all life had left his body. He felt dizzy, he felt sick, he felt like nothing and everything and once and, shit!

He tried sweeping her hair back with one hand, so she could see again - her eyes were still closed. Her hair didn't stay in place. Her strands fell back in front of her face again.

"Scarls?" No answer. Not even movement. "Please don't do this, c'mon, I can't -!"

He swallowed. He was surprised he still had water in him. "I don't want you to go. C'mon."

His voice grew weaker. He didn't know what else to say. His mind drew a blank. His thoughts were all over the place for a second, just racing around his head looking for something, anything that could make a difference.

"Hey Scarls? Look I - I'm scared. I need you here, okay, don't go. I - I need a puzzle, Scarls. You know where to find one, right? Please just - can you get me one? Please get up."

He didn't even know. He had no idea if he had expected it to work. Sometimes you had to try something crazy. When nothing else made sense like this, when everything was just -

Gone like this.

Scarlett didn't respond.

Aiden couldn't take it anymore, his body gave out and he leaned forward to bury his face on her shoulder. He had no more tears to cry, no more words, no more whimpers, fucking nothing.

She was just dead.

((Aiden Slattery continued in Little Boy Blue))

これでいい。
Aiden still held his hand out for Scarlett. He wasn't moving, not one bit. All he did was stand there and breathe and stare. Breathing with his mouth wide open, jaw trembling.

He heard another noise from behind Scarlett. Wet somehow, fucking wet, oh god - there was a fuckin' knot in his stomach and he felt like he had to throw up.

He got a glimpse of Nancy running away, a blurry blue flash. He didn't care. All he wanted to was just-

Scarlett was speaking. Her voice, her fucking voice, like she was hurtin' so damn much, like she was gonna- just, no, god no, why was this happening to them? To her? It was just Scarlett. Just sweet old Scarlett. Why her?

"Scarls, god, I-"

His voice broke and he tried to grab her arm, do something, do something to help her - but his fingers reached only the air and Scarlett collapsed right in front of him.

"No-" It hurt so much. His throat, his eyes, his fucking heart, it felt like he was going to die, like everything was fuckin' slipping away. He looked down at Scarlett and saw only a blur, his eyes coated by a curtain of tears. He hadn't even noticed he started crying.

He blinked, and when he opened his eyes again he was already on his knees. There was red leaking from her back. Everywhere on the ground. So much red, more than he ever saw before, so much he felt like he was drowning in it.

He looked at Scarlett's face. Her expression, her eyes, it just hurt; he had to help her, but fucking how, how was he supposed to -

"No, no, no, this isn't - hey, Scarls, hey!" His voice broke. "Listen to me, you can't-"

Aiden bit down on his lip, he was shakin' everywhere, head felt like it was spinning, like he was about to pass out - but he had to do something, stay focused, try and help Scarls, he had to help her, he had to help, he couldn't let her - Couldn't let her fucking die.

He reached out again, his hand shakin' so much he couldn't even describe it - he was so scared, scared she was going to just fall apart the second he touched her. He hesitated. One second, another, tears were running down his cheeks now.

"Please don't die, please!"

He took hold of her shoulder with one hand, his other hand reaching around her waist. He tried to pull her up. But there was just - so much sticky, red - so much blood.

これでいい。
He saw the girl with the axe getting up. Nancy.

Her name just came to, but it didn't matter, he felt like he had already been kicked into the gut so many times at once that this little detail didn't fuckin' matter one bit.

She stammered something. He didn't pay attention to her words. It was hard enough to get his eyes off Scarlett. Her arm bleeding like that - she had gotten hurt, she had gotten hurt and it was all his fuckin' fault. He had let her go.

The other girl raised her axe. He didn't know why. He didn't know and he didn't want to know and he didn't want to be there anymore, he didn't want anything except time freezing or stopping or starting over or something he didn't even know - he couldn't think straight anymore.

Aiden put up his hands in front of his face, like a shield, like he could just make everything go away by puttin' his fucking hands in front of it. He tried to say something but whatever shit he tried to say was cut off immediately, all he uttered was a whimper.

He heard Nancy scream. Then heard her coming towards him, loud footsteps.

Scarlett. She was yelling things too, he couldn't hear it, he was too scared to focus on anything but his own fuckin' hands in front of his eyes.

Something moved in front of him. He had to look now. At least see what was coming.

Aiden removed his hands from his face and was now staring at Scarlett's. His instincts told him to go in for a hug or tell her that everything was going to be fine. But again, he couldn't utter a single fuckin' thing, his lungs were too busy struggling to get air into him.

And then he heard a weird noise.

Saw Scarlett's expression changing.

Saw her gasping. Eyes going wide.

"Wh-"

He opened his mouth again, felt his eyes burnin' up and his throat tightening like he was about to choke.

"You - h..hey...c'mon, no. Please."

これでいい。
More yelling. Oh for fuck's sake, what was going on, why did it have to be that way? Had it been only one scream, then maybe, just maybe he coulda bought she just hurt her foot or something. But it was more than that. But it didn't matter. He was gonna make sure Scarlett was alright, he couldn't fuckin' break his promise. She had to be okay.

The voices were so close now. More than just Scarls, someone else was there, some other girl, that's what it sounded like. His heart was beating so fast it was killin' him, not just because of the running, he was fuckin' scared out of his goddamn mind. Just, just-

He turned the final corner and he immediately spotted two girls. One was Scarlett.

The other was holding an axe.

It was the first thing he noticed about her, only thing that even mattered at all other than her being on her knees or her goddamn hair being all blue. She had an axe, a fucking axe or hatchet, whatever, but-

His brain was still processing that bit when he saw Scarlett, really saw Scarlett. Saw her holding her arm, with red leaking out- Oh god, oh nonononono, what the fuck, no. This wasn't happening. Jesus fuck, this wasn't happening.

"Shit, what the fuck?

It was all that was in his mind, all that he could say. Or yell.

Aiden recoiled at the sight, instinctively took a step backwards and put his hands up. This couldn't be real. He had to be dreaming, fuckin' nightmare messing with his head; had to finally wake up from this crap, this was too real to be fucking true!

"Goddammit Scarls, what the shit is going on?" He was practically screeching.

God Help the Outcasts
Ugh, why her? Was it really asked too much for her to get a lucky break for once; this whole thing just screamed 'rigged' in her face. Of course she had been the one to wake up next to Caedyn. Not only that, but now she also had to deal with Oskar's goddamn ouchie, forcing her to stay near that bitch for brains even longer.

Jane inhaled deeply, trying to calm herself down. Fuck, she had to pull herself together. Had to ignore Caedyn trying to push all of her buttons. She had to be strong now, fucking clich as that sounded. Even with how horrible all of this shit was and with how much she didn't want to admit to herself how scared she was, she had to try and stay confident. Somehow. And the best way to do that, was to demonstrate she was above those taunts. That she could keep a cool head. Keep calm and take care of Oskar, that was what she had to do. He deserved as much.

She looked down at his leg, stepping closer to him. It didn't look dangerous or anything, but it prolly didn't feel very good. Yeah, that shit had to sting. She had been there herself, knew how much that sucked. Back then, when she had been bawling her eyes out over it, her grandpa had always taken care of it for her. Then eventually taught her how to treat it herself. And now she could finally put that to good use on someone else.

"Yeah, let's see what I can do here." Jane nodded, then looked back over her shoulder for a short moment to make sure Caedyn wasn't trying to pull any funny moves. Nope, just sitting there in the dirt where she belonged. Satisfied, she turned her attention towards Oskar again, giving him a slightly inquiring look.

"Don't mean to sound like a jerk, but you don't mind if I use the stuff from your med kit for this, right? I mean, I figure we all got one with us in our bags and I might still need mine for myself later on, so...you get that, right?"

これでいい。
((Aiden Slattery continued from Needles and Pins))

Goddammit, goddammit, goddammit, where the everlovin' hell had she ran off to? Felt to him like he was runnin' in circles, like he was part of some huge fuckin' joke that sent him round and round and round without him ever getting anywhere. Like, fuck.

Who'd have known Scarls was a speedy one like that? Had maybe twenty seconds or so on him back when he went after her, to be sure. Should have been no problem for him to catch up to her, but he didn't and everything was just totally sucking and - god, if only those fuckin' bells hadn't started to ring, all could have been fine! Yeah, not totally fine, far from it, but -

Aiden heard a scream.

No fuckin' mistake about it, that was definitely a fuckin' scream, close by, scary and terrible enough to make him stop dead in his tracks for a second.

He came to a slithering halt, his heart having skipped a beat. It took him no more than that, he was scared, he was so fuckin' scared, because, why the fuck would-
Another scream. A shriek. From a girl, again.

No, fuck no, no way in hell was any of that happening.

Why was he hearing that? That had to be wrong. It wasn't right, so it had to be wrong. Just had to be.

An image of Scarlett appeared in his mind, followed by more flashes of her, just random pictures flickering in his head like a movie reel had started dying - no, no fuckin' dying, why the fuck was he even thinking about that?

He started running again, took a turn, towards where the voices came from. This was so familiar. Same thing as earlier. Voices in the distance, him running through hallways, running and running until he found the origin of the voices. That had been how he found Scarlett earlier. That was how he was gonna find her again. And then all would be fine.

Prince of Nothing
The door opened with a slight creak, though he had almost expected that. This place was anything but in good condition, he couldn't help but wonder how long it had been since it had last been in use by the actual staff. Then again, he had no idea what had happened to any of those people either, chances were, they had been slaughtered by the terrorists, executed just like Mr. Graham.

Slowly, the room behind said door was revealed and Maxim's initial impression was that it was just as barren and devoid of life and fantasy like the rest of what he'd seen so far. Walls that were grayish enough for him to wonder whether this was by design or if grime and dust had painted it that way over time.

His eyes kept scanning as he took a step forward into the room, discovering nothing much of interest; there was a single bed sans sheets with a nightstand next to it and a door in the back corner, which he suspected lead to a bathroom of some sort. Either way, it was clear and as such-

Somebody was shouting. Maxim heard a distant coughing, then the voice again, louder this time.

He had to think quickly, make a decision on the spot. He could not immediately identify the voice; it was male, without doubt, but that knowledge didn't really help him much. It would have been easy to turn around and spot the person in question; judging from the direction of where it came from, the guy had just come through the main entrance.

But he was already within the bedroom, hidden from immediate sight. And he'd prefer it to stay that, as long as he didn't know who the boy in question was. But the door. The door, it was still open, plain as day for the new arrival to see, goddammit. Closing it now was a huge risk, it would probably creak again and give him away immediately.

It was only a matter of time before the new arrival came in and discovered him, he had potentially lured himself into a dead end. He had to improvise.

He turned himself around by 180 degrees, now facing the open door from within the bedroom. There was no suitable hiding spot in there. The bathroom maybe? But he didn't even know if it really was a bathroom, maybe it was a storage closet, maybe it didn't even open at all or - either way, he had to try.

Taking heavy breaths, Maxim slowly moved towards the door in the far right corner of the room, keeping his eyes fixed on the opened one the entire time.

Needles and Pins
Aiden bit his lip. Raina coming in close again. Johnny just kinda...standing there, being all chill, like always. Why couldn't he be like that? Be a bastion of calm or whatever they called it, solid as a fuckin' rock. No, he wasn't just wasn't, he was just a goddamn useless little sissy, that was all he was. Fuck it all.

He tried his best to calm down though or tried to not be a fucking liability to the others any more than he was already, at least. He was still breathing funny, heart still hurting the way it went, but he had to fucking get a grip, like asap.
He didn't look away as Raina talked to him. Yeah, like, she was right and all. Nobody was dead. And fuck, nobody was going to be, it was all gonna turn out like he had thought, like- Whoa, unexpected, her touching him like that. He winced slightly, but let it happen. It was kinda helping, physical contact always kinda helped with making him all calm.

Raina kept talking and Aiden nodded. He didn't even think about why, he just nodded, compliant and shit, it made him feel better and would prolly them as well. Whatever helped. He had to at least try. Even though it was just - fuck, this was too much, just was, but he couldn't lose it, not again. Had to try and -

And then everything went way too fast for him. Scarlett spoke up, out of the blue, said things, something about them finding allies, about the bell - and then she just ran off. Fucking Christ, what the hell had gotten into her, this wasn't how it was supposed to be!

He pushed himself off the wall, made sure to push Raina gently though, just enough for her to step out of his way. Goddammit, why the fuck?
"Ey, Scarls! What are you doing, come back here! You can't just-"

He shouted after her, but all he got in response was the echo of her footsteps dying down and then fading away. Shit man, fuckin' shit on a stick with sprinkles. This was totally not cool, all of it was shitty and fucked up enough already, but why did this have to happen too now?

Like, he couldn't just let her run off, could he? He had been leading her all the way up to here, she had followed him and shit, put her trust into him. He had been supposed to protect her, before he went all nervous and broke down and shit like a fuckin' loser. And now he was just letting this happen to? Like, not like he was really believing all that shit about peeps starting to kill each other but- he couldn't let her run off by herself either. He had promised Scarls it was going to be okay. He had to make sure it would be. He had to go after her.

Aiden turned around towards Johnny and Raina. Fuck, they had tried to help him, made such an effort and now he was just gonna leave 'em like this. Just made him feel like such a piece of shit, but he had to do it. "Look guys. I like - I appreciate what you're doing, okay? Really, I prolly look like an ungrateful fuck, but I mean it! Just, I have to go after her, okay? Just-"

They had each other. They'd be okay. Raina was smart, Johnny knew what he was doing. And why was he even worried? All was gonna be fine. He'd meet up with them later, it was fine. It was fine.

"I'll - I'll see you later, okay? We're gonna meet up again somewhere here, maybe not go away too far or something. Or just do whatever, like, gonna be fine either way and-"

Goddamnit, he was wastin' time now. Scarley Scarls was prolly already a mile ahead of him.

"See ya!"

His heart still pounding like a madman, and his bag thrown over his shoulder, Aiden started running.

((Aiden Slattery continued in これでいい。 ))

Prince of Nothing
((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued from Good Omens))

It seemed like he was in luck. When he had decided to enter this particular building, he had no idea whether or not it was already occupied by others. The map he had hadn't been that helpful either, but judging from what he had seen around him, this was most likely the 'Staff Housing Block A.' he was in. Whatever that meant for him.

But so far, it all had worked out for him, he didn't regret entering the place, not one bit. It was nothing but an empty hallway with bleak walls and even duller looking doors, yes, but at least it seemed like there was nothing for him to fear in there. Of course, this was taking for granted that there was no maniac waiting for him in one of the many rooms, some sort of Scissorman - darn, he immediately regretting the mere thought. Some distant memories of playing Clock Tower back when he was barely a teen resurfaced, making his flesh crawl a bit.

Though at the same time, it almost made him laugh, in how delightfully absurd it was. A life and death situation like this was unnerving, sure, but still not enough to make him loose it, but remembering a video game was where he became truly terrified. Then again, said game and all of this weren't even that different in some regards, but this was not time to indulge in such peculiar thoughts.

The obvious thing to do was to search through the rooms one by one. At least he assumed there to be rooms behind all of those doors, it seemed logical to assume. Maybe, just maybe something of use could be found in there, some rations, water, tools - probably no weapons, but who knew, maybe his luck really had taken a turn for the better.

Maxim walked along the hallway, pondering which door to open first. Almost sounded like he was talking about an Advent calendar. If he was going with that, then opening the very first door was the correct thing to do. But he certainly didn't expect to find chocolate behind any of these doors and as such, it didn't really matter which one he opened first. He eventually settled for the third one on the right. There was a small scratch on the door handle, almost looked like someone had tried to carve something into it. This was as good a sign as any other for him.

He took a small breath and turned his head left and right to check if somebody was there once more. Satisfied, he finally put his hand on the handle and pushed it down.

Walkabouts
Goddamnit, this was fucking embarrassing. Jane steadied herself, careful set her foot down on the ground, making damn well sure there was no rock or some other stupid obstacle in her way this time. Of course this had to happen, she couldn't have one nice moment without some dumb shit like this pulling the rug from under her out of the blue.

She let out a groan, annoyed with herself and everything around her, before she turned towards Cris. It was weird, even though he had just helped her out, saved her from an even bigger humiliation, she still didn't know whether to be thankful or mad at him. Maybe she could have regained her footing all by herself. Could have prevented falling over like a sack of lard without him intervening, but he had apparently not thought so. Though she couldn't do anything on her own, like she was just a clumsy mess.

She kinda wanted to snark at him, let him know she was pissed, but really - she didn't. Her anger almost vanished instantly as she stared at his big, stupid face. Nah, she was just being mean for nothing, he didn't deserve that. Had just wanted to protect her, nothing wrong with that. No reason to be mad at him; it was probably just the heat getting to her again.

"Yeah, I'm good. Don't know what happened there, kinda got lost in my thoughts, y'know?" She performed a twirling gesture with her hand next to her head, to illustrate her point and smiled a little while doing so. Yeah, no way she could stay mad at him, the whole thing was even almost kind of funny. "At least we got to test your reflexes."

She smirked at him. "Getting a 10/10 from me."

Mr. Bliss
Just as he was about to storm off to continue his frustrating search, Maxim heard his name being called. Or rather, whispered, given how quiet the voice was.

"Hm?" He turned around to see Brendan, looking like he was about to suffer a stroke or something of the sort, given the look on his face. Now that was interesting. He barely knew a thing about the boy, except that he had that habit of stuttering and getting flustered quite easily in class. A nervous wreck, something like that. All the more surprising that this guy openly addressed him out here in the public like that, wouldn't have thought he'd be the type.

"Hello." Had he really made it that obvious that he was upset? Damn, if even someone this timid could pick up on that, then he really wasn't doing a good job of not drawing attention to himself. That was regrettable. Even so, he'd at least have the courtesy to assure Brendan that his concern was unfounded, for politeness' sake and all.

"Don't worry, it's all fine. I'm not-"

Just then, as his gaze wandered around the boy's face, Maxim noticed something lying on the table in front of him. Well, not just something, a book; not much of a surprise in a place like this. No, it wasn't just the fact that it was a mere book that caught his attention, but rather, its title. Well, wasn't that convenient?

Maxim looked back at Brendan's face. He really was a nervous mess and to be honest, it was enough to unnerve him a little. He wasn't sure if it was necessarily pity he felt for the boy, but it made him feel something, that much was for sure. Either way, the guy had the book he was looking for, which was both a pleasant surprise and bad news. If he was unlucky, Brendan would occupy it for another few days or so. Unless of course, he somehow persuaded him to give it up to him instead.

"Just, no need to worry for you, alright?" Maxim cleared his throat. "Well, anyway: Mind if I sit down here?" He placed one hand on top of the back of the chair next to Brendan, trying to sound as casual as he could. He could just straight up ask Brendan for the book, of course, but that didn't seem promising. Maybe a little bit persuading was all it took.

Needles and Pins
He was starin' at the floor again. God, fuckin' goddammit. He wanted to look up, try to look at Raina, face her like - a man? Fuck, he didn't feel like man right then, he didn't even want to be one! If only he could have been some snotty ass toddler again, just spending all day doing whatever, being held by Mom and Dad and sis, no fuckin' worry in the world. Why'd he have to be here instead? Fucking why?

Aiden clenched his fist, shaking his head, slowly at first, then with increasing force. No, no, this had to be bull, it had to be, it goddamn had to be, there was no way - His meds, he needed a load of his stupid ass meds, but they were gone and he had nothing he could do and -

He got up from his crouching position, slowly, keeping his eyes closed like he was afraid of just glimpsing at Raina. Fuck, fuck, he was fuckin' embarrassing, a pathetic little chump. He couldn't handle this, couldn't handle anything, couldn't get anything right. Why'd this have to happen? He just wanted to go home. This shit wasn't fair, just wasn't!

Still breathing in and out very audibly and heavily, he turned himself away from Raina, took a step backwards, until his back hit a wall. Aiden leaned his against it, closing his eyes again. Now was the moment for him to wake up. All of this cracked horseshit, it would just be gone once he opened his eyes again, nightmare over, status fucking quo restored. God, please-

He opened his eyes. He was still there. Of course he was, of course it was no dream. He was still there, with Raina and Scarlett and Johnny and - no, wait, wasn't Alice there just a minute ago? Maybe he really was startin' to go nuts, little monkey in his head startin' to take over. Either way, he was fuckin' screwed.

It hurt to even open his mouth and speak up, his throat felt all torn up and ripped open or something. All of the muscles in his face were so fucking heavy, how long until the rest of his body would be like that too? He glanced around, from one of the people around him to the other.

"I'm...I'm so sorry, so fucking sorry, but I can't-" Aiden took another breath, put his hand on his chest. "I can't do this, just, I can't, no fucking way in hell. I'll just-" Another sharp breath, he grit his teeth this time. "I can't handle this. I'm not fucking made for it, true as truth. I hear ya and - I wanna believe you guys, really want to, I want to try but I just can't. If I do, then - then that means I'm fucking dead, okay? How am I just supposed to fucking accept that?"

He felt his lower lip shaking and quivering, but he wanted to say more, he fucking needed to say more. "But like - I'll just, I don't wanna be a burden to you guys either, okay? I'll do what you'll say, follow you, go away, whatever. Just - let me hold on to my fucking belief, yeah? It's all I got right now."

Talk about fucking timing. Just as he finished talking, he suddenly heard some loud ass ring fill out all the space in his ears. That a goddamn bell?