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The Funny Thing Is, I Keep On Returning Over and Over
Topic Started: Aug 14 2015, 08:19 PM (1,158 Views)
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((Alice Baker continued from Not Quite the Zeitgeist))

The art museum was a lovely little place. Alice had been lucky enough to have some of her works displayed in the café, despite being a junior, so she was a little biased. That said, she did like the works of art, and sometimes looking at the paintings or sculptures inspired her own sketches.

Today, though, Alice was lacking her sketchbook. She wasn't even in the museum wing. She was at the gift shop, browsing the gifts and knickknacks. Alice was not a spender. She'd go out for dinner or lunch if she had some cash and was feeling up to it, but usually she liked to save money. Ideally, in the future she'd be able to save up for travel and such, maybe see Paris or London or other famous locales. But she didn't spend frivolously. So why the gift store?

Alice's mom's birthday was coming up, and Alice needed a gift for her. Mom was hard to shop for; she liked pottery and decorations and practical things, but not electronics or things she had already or things she saw no purpose for. Alice had agonized at various shops of late, and eventually opted to visit then museum gift shop. Surely they had some handmade china or something!

Alas, Alice had not found anything of the sort, but she'd made the trip so at this point she was willing to buy anything if it meant having something to present. The card was already written and decorated, but without a gift, Alice would look cheap. So she kept at it, right up until she spotted her friend Bryony, seemingly in a mini crisis of her own.

"Oh, hi Bryony." Bryony was a similarly shy soul to Alice, and they got along well when drawing, even though they rarely spoke during their hangouts. Today, though, Bryony looked rather distraught. Alice knew she'd been feeling a little down lately, but wasn't sure why. She should check in. "What's up?"
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Bryony seemed distracted. Well, maybe that was an understatement. It took a while for her to register Alice's presence, which seemed odd. The poor thing must be worse off than she'd thought.

"It's okay." Alice said reassuringly. She offered a smile, and tilted her head to get a better look at the little statuette. It was a nice little hoplite-type helmet, rendered in metal. It was pretty neat, actually, Alice could see in her mind the helmet laying on a destroyed battlefield. Very symbolic, actually. Ooh, inspiration!

Wait. Shit, Alice got so wrapped up in the little trinket she forgot about Bryony. Mentally berating herself, Alice added, "It's a neat statue. If you want it, it's a nice little thing. How much is it?" She reached over and picked up the statue, checking the price tag. It wasn't that much, surprisingly. "Yeah, I say go for it."

She smiled again. Hopefully she could get to the bottom of why Bryony was so distressed, but for now, she was willing to make small talk and help her feel better for now.
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Luckily it seemed Alice's presence was helping Bryony feel better, even if it was a transient, brief respite from whatever plagued her. The question now was, should she press the issue, inquire deeper into Bryony's troubles in the hope of forever putting them to rest, or leave it be and simply try to provide support without invading the other girl's life?

Alice smiled. "You're welcome. Horses can be tough, I don't do animals a lot so whenever I try it ends up looking malformed." She chuckled softly, but her smile vanished after a moment as she came to a decision.

"Bryony, I know you've been kind of worried about something lately. What's up?"

There, she did it. She pressed the hot button. Maybe she could help her friend now. Hopefully Bryony didn't suffer in the process.
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Well that didn't work out how Alice had hoped it would. Bryony hadn't freaked out like she'd feared, but neither had she opened up, leaving Alice just as in the dark as before. It was apparent from Bryony's reaction that she was hiding something, but Alice didn't know what.

Pressing the issue might make Bryony snap at her, and Alice desperately wanted to avoid that. But leaving it be scared her; people always talked about this kind of thing. If it was a worst case scenario, Bryony might really need to talk to someone, and Alice was in a position to help.

So she pressed on.

"Bree..." She said quietly. She hadn't called Bryony Bree for a while, but now seemed a good time. After all, Alice was her friend, and she really did care. If Bryony needed someone, Alice was hopefully fit for the job.

"It's okay if you don't want to talk, I get it. But I want to make sure you're alright. I'm worried, you know? You're so on edge, and I want to help." Alice smiled gently. "So please, what's been upsetting you?"
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Luckily, it seemed Alice had managed to coax Bryony into opening up. Now hopefully Bryony's problem was something that could be fixed, or at least, something Alice could be supportive of. Not that she didn't have faith in her friend, of course, but there was always the chance Bree was in trouble.

As Bryony paid for the statuette, Alice waited for her to return before replying, "No problem." She smiled reassuringly before moving towards the café.

Now, Alice was pretty confident she wasn't showing it too much, but inside, Alice was starting to feel worried. What if Bryony's issue was silly? Or she was doing something wrong and Alice would be better off not knowing? Or what if-

No, stop it. Bree was a good person, whatever the problem was, it wasn't her. Alice just had to do what made sense and, if nothing else, be there for her friend when it mattered.

Sitting down at a small table in a metal chair, Alice watched Bree, trying to read her face. The worry was clear as day, but Alice didn't know what she was worried about. Not yet, at least.
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Alice nodded cautiously. Bryony was clearly distraught, and she didn't want to assume or misunderstand her friend's intentions. Still, her thoughts started racing, most of them rather outlandish. Bryony's family, last Alice had heard, were perfectly unremarkable, and Alice wasn't entirely sure what might cause her to avoid them. Perhaps she'd perpetrated some kind of offense and couldn't bear to face them?

That seemed improbable. Bryony was hardly the type to get involved in something irresponsible or unsavory. Maybe some kind of falling out had happened? More plausible, but hard to picture. Alice couldn't see her friend fighting with someone. This unconfrontational nature was something she had in common with Bryony. Even thinking of arguing with someone made Alice feel sick.

Still. Bryony was willing to open up to her, and Alice needed to help.

Slowly, Alice said, "I see. Do you feel safe there? Because if you're scared, you can come stay at my place if you need to." She didn't want to be inquisitorial, so letting Bryony explain the situation at her own pace seemed logical.
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Luckily, it seemed Bryony's parents weren't the issue, but her sister was. Alice vaguely recalled hearing Bethany's name come up before, at school if nowhere else. She didn't seem like a particularly problematic student, but if she was upsetting Bryony so much...

Ugh. Bullying was just...ugh. Especially among family members. Alice got picked on a lot by Molly when she was younger, and it was so difficult to speak out to her parents. Appeasing Molly was a source for so many of her decisions even now, it was kind of scary. Alice wondered sometimes how things might've been different if she were the oldest sibling.

That was not the point, though. The point was helping her friend. "Bryony, it's okay. You know Molly, my big sister? She did a lot of the same stuff, I think. It's hard to deal with, I know."

Alice paused for a moment. There had to be something specific here, some particular event that led to this fear, right? It could just be mounting dread, but she suspected otherwise. "What has she said to you?" She asked quietly, leaning towards Bryony a little.
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Alice frowned. Bryony seemed so distraught, the poor thing. Her little sister picking on her like that just...it was so nasty! She was already insecure, she didn't need to deal with people putting her down.

"That's awful. And completely false. I care about you, after all. You're my friend." Alice smiled. "And I'm sure it's only a matter of time before you find the right guy."

Alice paused. "Or girl, whichever." Alice reached out to gently pat Bryony's hands comfortingly. "You don't have to be scared."
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Bryony still seemed really upset, even though Alice thought she was doing a pretty good job. Maybe there was some underlying problem that she hadn't recognized? Bryony had reacted pretty visibly when she said that thing about girls, though she quickly noted that she preferred guys. Bree was hardly the type to judge, so...

She had her suspicions, but, Alice didn't mention anything about it. If Bryony was, you know, into girls, Alice was okay with that. She tried to be pretty comfortable with that kind of thing, after all, ever since that thing with Enzo. And besides, pressuring someone into coming out of the closet would definitely not help when they were already so emotionally compromised. And of course, Alice could very well be wrong, so bringing it up would just make it worse.

So instead, Alice returned Bryony's smile. "Got it." She said. "And don't worry, I'll be there whenever you need me. That's what friends are for, right?" She chuckled quietly, then stood up and ran her hands through her bangs. Geez, it was getting late; it was almost dinnertime, and Alice was loathe to be late to get home without prior warning. But if Bryony still needed her...

"I gotta get going soon, I think." She said, looking conflicted. Then an idea struck her, and she smiled. "Hey, maybe you can come by my place? My parents think you're great, and Molly's out tonight. We can practice drawing those things you got, or something."
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Oh, great, just as things were looking good to get Bryony feeling better, Isaac showed up. He was just...ugh, he was so ill-mannered! Alice was loathe to give people grief, but he'd clearly never learned that behavior. She could probably go on an on about her feelings on him, but what would be the point? Better to focus on the issue at hand, which was keeping him from upsetting Bryony.

Unfortunately, there were a few challenges with that. For one, they were in public, and just walking off would make her look like the bad guy in this situation. For another, as much as she hated to admit it, trying to tell off Isaac made her nervous. It might cause a scene, it might upset Bryony further...there were plenty of reasons for Alice to not just tell him to go away. So it was best to just give him what he wanted until he got bored. He probably wouldn't be interested in their issues, right?

"Uh, hi, Isaac. We were uh, probably going to leave soon. Bryony's had a rough day. Did you need something?"

Alice looked up at him, her expression neutral. She had to admit, she had spun that pretty well. As soon as Isaac left, the two could hurry out, and then they could actually have some private time. Alice was itching to get back to her latest fanfiction.
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Alice wanted to go off.

Isaac was being the classic pseudo-gentleman, but neither she nor Bryony wanted anything to do with it. She wanted to tell him as much. She wanted to tell him off, tell him to go screw himself, whatever it took to get him away from her friend who desperately needed to be left alone. People in the café were staring, and even Alice was getting uncomfortable. Bryony seemed petrified. She couldn't let this stand. She had to get Isaac away.

But she couldn't.

She wasn't able to. She just didn't have it in her to confront the guy, even with her friend here in need. She was too weak.

Alice felt her face flush hot with embarrassment and a creeping sense of failure as she spoke. "Uh, thanks for worrying. We're okay though. Like I said, she' just had a rough day."

Internally, Alice didn't want to, but at the same time, she felt like she had to offer Isaac something. Please him, and he might leave them alone. "If you've got a project, maybe I can help out after I get Bryony a ride?" Mom would be fine picking up the two, she figured. If it meant keeping Bryony calm, she'd risk spending more time with this guy.

She was Bree's friend. That's what friends were for.
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Alice tried to avoid being too judgmental of people. She figured if she didn't understand someone's circumstances, they probably had some psychological reason for their behavior, so why think badly of people when they were the person they were because of their environment?

Except Isaac Brea. He was an asshole, and anything nasty she could think to say about him wasn't enough.

Alice could only stare as Bryony raced out of the café in tears. She wanted so badly to go to her, to try to talk to her, get her to feel better. But she was emotionally drained, upset by Isaac coming up and ruining her efforts to make her friend happy again. She wasn't sure she was in the proper state to resolve her own emotions, let alone Bryony's. She just...didn't know what to say or do. She'd wait around a little while, see if Bryony returned. If not, then she'd have to go. She still needed to find a gift for her mom's birthday. That could wait, though.

Hopefully Bryony would be okay. Alice didn't know what to do anymore. She wondered if she would be a bad person for leaving Bryony by herself. Probably. She wasn't sure, but Alice knew one thing was sure. She knew for sure that something had to be done. She couldn't let that kind of person get away with their behavior, not after what she just saw.

She was going to fuck up Isaac Brea.

((Alice Baker continued in Not My Tempo))
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