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Dying To See How This One Ends; 'Or It's Gonna Go Down In Flames' - this song does not actually appear
Topic Started: Mar 2 2016, 07:50 PM (990 Views)
Laurels
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((All GMing approved))

Noah continued to dance around with Irene, continuing with their mock-waltz. Noah was starting to find the whole thing absurd. Amazingly, he and Irene were somehow managing to not step on each other's feet. He was glad for that. His shoes were really nice, and it'd suck if he got them scuffed. Also, he'd probably knock her over if he wasn't careful. That'd be just as bad.

They were getting to the second verse of the song. They had stopped moving around as much and were now merely spinning in place. Noah, from all he had learned from watching musicals, realized there was one move he had yet to try. He wasn't sure if Irene was familiar with it, but he hoped she'd go along with it.

Noah released his grip on Irene's waist and flung her out, moving her out like he was opening a large gate. He figured he'd have to do this move quickly for it to work. Once she was stretched out, Noah pulled her back, reaching his free arm out to grab her at her waist and pull her close. Once her chest lined up with his, Noah pushed forward, causing Irene to bend backwards. If this was like the movies, he was sure one of them would have a rose in their mouth. His smile widened as he looked into Irene's eyes. This was getting really fun, and he hoped she was enjoying it.

It was then that Noah miscalculated. His lack of knowledge on how to waltz caused him to poorly time his next action. He raised Irene back up, but didn't pull himself back fast enough. Because of how close they were, Irene's mouth somehow managed to line up perfectly with Noah's. As he felt the warmth of Irene's full lips pressed against his, Noah's eyes widened in realization of what he happened.

He had just accidentally kissed Irene.

"Oh shit!" Noah cried out.

In his surprise, Noah released his grip from Irene's hip and hand. It was a quick reaction, one where he meant to cover his mouth with both hands. What he forgot was that Irene wasn't standing straight due to the position he forced her in. Covering his mouth suddenly became appropriate, as he watched as Irene fell backwards onto the floor.

"Oh fuck!" he cried out. "I'm so fucking sorry!"

He held out a hand to help Irene up. He cracked a smile and tried to awkwardly laugh it off. Noah couldn't remember the last time he felt so embarrassed, mostly due to the fact that he tried to live in a world without any sense of shame. Regardless, Noah started to hope she would be able to laugh this off too.
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Man, when had Irene started wearing the grown up shoes and the big girl dress? This was nice. Smooth, easy listening; smoother and easier dance steps. Sashay to and fro. Irene's crush quietly smoldered, shit was hotter than the most fire of mixtapes, but it was a poignant sort of burning desire. A simmer, not a boil. The sort that got Irene the highest of grades in English when she analyzed it in prose. Star crossed lovers, never to be. Because at least one of them was, like, gay as fuck. All could be forgiven. It just felt right. Natural, the way their motions drew tighter and tighter circles on the dance floor. A unit circle as imaginary as the fantasies Irene nuzzled and nursed on, of taking this man before her for... well, nothing, really. She was in no way equipped as a person to dance the dance of romance but she could at least pretend!

Second verse started. Hell yeah she was wrapped up in his touch.

Irene squealed in surprised delight when she was suddenly being thrown out. She knew enough dance stereotypes to know that this was the romantic part with all the roses and the deep longing eye gazes and stuff. Wasn't actually happening, but if her primordial brain (AKA the vast majority of it) could just get over the hormones she could enjoy this for what it was. Exhilarating. A boy and a girl showing the dance floor what was up. There was no way there was any couple as hot as they were, Irene entertained. She returned to him with almost professional aplomb, theatrically swelling her bosom and neck so that she struck a chord and a figure in their shared silhouette. He pressed into her. Looked into her. Uh, hot damn.

Was this what feeling sexy felt like?

Man, it was sweaty. Maybe that was the point?

Down, she let her back arch, exhaled neatly. The most sustained competence in her life, this dance. She eyed a random couple, idly shooting her glances from where their butts were awkwardly plastered against the wall. A smile blossomed their way. If she could push the good feels hard enough maybe they'd get the courage to launch onto the dance floor themselves. Just a moment she had to write them their persuasive essay though, for she was coming back up and-!

...

Well. Of all the things that could have slammed together. Forehead, noses, chins. Nah, fuck it. Make it the lips, so sayeth all the gods she suddenly cursed, and so it shall be.

Soft. Tasted like Maybelline, somehow. Maybe Noah was worth it. Except, um, he wasn't. Like technically he was but this wasn't the time for technicality it was the time for sloppy makeouts and the consequences thereof. This was not supposed to be happening. Maybe if Irene's heart beat any harder it'd straight up stop and spare her the aftermath.

...

No, dammit. Still alive.

Irene made only the most token of efforts to stop herself from hitting the floor. Somehow it was as hard as the concrete that Irene and her doctors did not recommend for catching her skate wipeouts. Dammit Cochise. Irene's pained cry was silent, bereft of breath. Noah had kind of stolen that. Noah. He was still there, standing over her with awkward concern sculpted into his form. He apologized. Reached out. Smiled and laughed awkwardly. Looked so damn good doing it. Irene stared at Noah's offered hand as if it were Noah's offered hand. That's how shocked she was.

"... Noah, I..." Her breath fluttered somewhere between dimensions. Nervous giggling began to punctuate every sentence, every period, comma, exclamation point. Her eyes rapidly began to implode. Wide for shocked, to narrow for fear. Her mouth was a cartoon marionette's, flapping open and shut like something out of Sesame Street. How's that for funny, Whitley?

She started, stopped, breathed, all too consciously felt the warmth still left over her bottom lip. "N-Noah... that was.... you... me-!" Something hurt, something really hurt somewhere. She didn't understand how it could even. How she could even. And suddenly she stood, vaulting abruptly so she became Noah's personal space. The giggling went as quickly as it had come. There was a sudden edge to her voice, that even the most profound of teenagers couldn't match.

"My first kiss. Noah. That was- that was my first..." Her eyes were shimmering, drowning dangerously. Shit was straight out of an anime.

Only the punchline to come wasn't going to be so funny.
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Noah kept his hand held up, waiting for Irene to take it so he could help her up. His arm was starting to shake from how long it was being held out. Irene wasn't making much sense right now. She remained on the ground, muttering something. Noah began to look around, trying to keep an awkward smile on his face. He was sure people were looking at them now. Noah could start to feel his face getting flushed. God, people probably saw him and Irene accidentally kiss.

"Hehehe..." Noah continued to quietly chuckle.

Noah looked back to Irene. She was starting to sound coherent, but couldn't phrase what she wanted to say.

"Um...Irene..." he started.

My first kiss. Noah. That was- that was my first...

Noah froze as Irene got closer to him.

"Fuck," he whispered to himself.

Now he felt even worse. This was also his first kiss with a girl, but he knew that this was more serious for her. He could easily laugh this off later since he knew it was an accident, but for a girl like Irene, this had to be a lot more precious and serious a moment. The only thing he could do was try and save face and hopefully cheer her up.

"Oh, god, I'm so sorry," he said, holding his hands out in front of himself to put some space between him and Irene.

"Um...if it makes you feel better...I...uh..."

Shit, the levity wasn't coming as easily as he had hoped. Noah had to say something.

"I've...I've had all my shots."

Noah prayed she'd find that funny so they could just get past this awkward-as-hell moment and carry on with their evening.
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Irene was acutely aware of the stare. Makaveli album and all. Hell with all of them, let them stare. The people in the place with the dancing, all irrelevant. Irene only needed one set of eyes right now. Right there. Right in front of her. He giggled, so did she. For once Irene wasn't the only one laughing at an inappropriate time.

Noah pulling a nice freeze tag pose. "Fuck."

She wished.

She wasn't sure why. Why she was suddenly trembling with barely contained... rage? Fear? Totally misplaced desire? Every fucking emotion was totally misplaced. It wasn't a big deal. Shit wasn't an anime. First kiss ultimately didn't really matter. Asimah had given hers to a girl as collateral for a bank loan. Typical shit, really. It was all so typical. Irene was supposed to calm down, say something barely apropos, maybe laughable. They'd go on, maybe with Irene just complaining about the accident in the past tense. Too present tense. It was all super three dimensional. Like it was actually real, against all odds.

Hey, why are you trying to back off? Stay here.

Irene pushed in as Noah tried to push out. His arms essentially didn't exist, she was well inclined to run them over...

"I've...I've had all my shots."

With a car.

"You. You think this..." Irene had to really work to force the words through her suddenly iron cast jaw. Deathwing. Emphasis on the death. A lot of folk on the dance floor would likely now be thinking in brief, 'holy shit when did Ramsey become a dance chaperone?' Their thoughts would be corrected upon observation into, 'fuuuuck Djezari is mad.' She payed none of them any mind. Just shrilly screeched. Not half sure what she was mad about:

"You think this is a joke, you fucking...!?!" What was the fuck? Something imposed? Something not given? Something wanted?

"Ass... fuck!?" Got 'em boys.

Ineptitude aside Irene was now obviously quite mad, teeth barred and both fists eagerly balled. Ball so hard.
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Okay, she didn't find that joke funny. The distance between Noah and Irene had become almost microscopic. If the lighting wasn't as strange, Noah could probably count the number of pores on her forehead they were that close. Irene was really starting to fall apart, and Noah realized he couldn't back away as much as he liked. Irene was stewing, and looked finally ready to boil over.

You. You think this...you think this is a joke, you fucking...ass... fuck!?

In a way, Noah was glad all she had to call him was a "fucking ass fuck." That was absurd enough that he couldn't get offended, and he was sure that in Irene's fury she could possibly go overboard with the insults. Still, Noah had to calm her down before the chaperones threw her out.

"No, I don't think this is funny," Noah said, slightly bending back from Irene. "I just thought it'd help lighten the mood. Look, let's just take a moment and calm down before someone say or does something they'll regret."
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People liked looking. If she'd been anyone besides herself she'd also have been looking. But she was Irene. She was the one being looked at. She was the one starting to melt, to [scream internally] a la hipster speak, while they all watched. She might as well have been an observer. For all of the control she had over what was happening.

"Look, let's just take a moment and calm down before someone say or does something they'll regret."

Regret. No regrets. Not one. Noah wasn't taking a single damn thing from her.

Except everything that he already had. A curiously empty sensation punctuated only by every desperate heave for air. Everything was so tight, but the dress had been so fit. For all that gesture had accomplished in the grand scheme of things. What was she supposed to be thinking now, exactly? Yeah she was angry, but why exactly? Noah had violated, he remained inviolate. She was supposed to remedy that shit. With her fist. She didn't want to. Motive, impetus, justification. Somehow he had robbed that from her along with everything else. Just by standing there. Looking like that. A little fear and a 'don't taze me bro' and suddenly Irene was, in her own spotlight, the bad one.

"..."

She threw an angry jab into his outstretched hands. It was rickety, weak, punctuated by an animal howl that strove for the finest of valley girl groan impressions. And, well. That was it. For all the nothing she had accomplished, she was done. And thus, she was gone. She likely hurt the people she carelessly shoved through to escape more than the actual target of her anger. Her shoulder bumped, bumped, bumped some more until she was out of the gym. Doors quietly snapped behind her and the tunes snuffed out. Sucked, she'd still been rocking out to them somehow. Seeya in the iPod, Disclosure. She took a moment to stand still. The dry and mealy air of a lukewarm Kingman night turned her moistened cheeks to pudding.

The tears took some time to finally trail down, drip off and splatter. She left spots of dampened concrete behind. In front. If only her clothes had conveniently been concrete as well, upon.

No regret. She wouldn't even muse on it. Not like she really knew how to. She just blankly, wetly stared, looking for her own spectacle to witness in nearby dry wall.
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Noah wasn't sure why, but in a moment, everything felt like it was getting really quiet. Maybe the embarrassment and shock from the situation had finally broke the universe, but Noah felt like a bomb was about to go off. Or maybe a rafter would fall on him. Or the ground would open up and drop him and Irene into Hell. Either way, Noah was sure things were about to fall apart.

Irene weakly punched his hands and stormed away. That wasn't as bad as Noah expected, but still really shitty all things considered. Irene vanished into the crowd of people around them. Noah knew he couldn't leave her be. She was his date, and he was responsible for her tonight. Thus, he tried to move through the crowd, vainly calling out to her in hopes of getting her to stop.

Noah finally made his way to the exit of the gymnasium and saw Irene standing outside, crying. Noah bit his lip.

"Oh crap," he quietly muttered.

Noah walked over to her. He reached into his back pocket, taking out one of the tissues he had just in case he got sweaty or got some drink spilled on him.

"Irene, are you okay?," he asked, holding out the tissue. "Talk to me, please."
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The wall, arid blank space that it was. Irene began visualizing infinity. She shuffled towards the wall, called that a limit. Her hands traced imaginary numbers and shapes over the plane of the wall. As many of her ninety nine problems as she hadn't solved, solving yet more somehow made her feel a bit better. It was easier when her thoughts weren't racing parallel circuits, brain electricity going places she didn't want it to be. Calc and geometry, those things were impersonal. Easier to deal with. Her fingers continued to blandly etch, pressed lightly into the concrete of the wall such that she could taste every contour of mortar. Chunky, like peanut butter.

She heard the door swing open behind her. No more Disclosure. That sucked.

"Irene, are you okay?" She continued to quietly trace as footsteps terminated right behind her. She could feel the shadow he cast. Was she alright? Eh. Hard to tell.

"Talk to me, please." The magic word. She could already hear the gentle chide from her sis, 'Irene, the magic word means you have to-'

"What if I told you I don't really know why I'm mad?" Irene had never cried like this before, this awkwardly silent tearing up that didn't hurt like it usually did. It wasn't as gross as it usually was. Kinda like the pretty crying they had in movies, without the snot and choked breaths and all that. The saline just drip drip dripped. Irene had an inkling that she should try to dry some of it and the next moment her palm was a fly-swatter over her cheek, brute rubbing the wet away. Stung like a bee.

"And if I told you I still kind of really hate you right now?" Her mute tone raised the question: 'Did she, really?' it seemed like the emotion she was supposed to be feeling. It was Noah. Pine Colander. The insensitive try-hard. The one who had stolen her womanhood. Or something dramatic like that. But, well. It was Noah. Her and Noah. There and then, like it always was. It didn't feel any different than before. Everywhere she'd been led that night, it somehow felt like nothing had really changed. She disliked him, yeah, but she couldn't find it in her to dislike him anymore. Something along those lines. How did emotions work, even. All she knew for sure was that she was somehow somewhy determined not to look at him again, so she kept her back turned.
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Irene didn't turn around to take the tissue. Noah lowered his arm when he realized she wasn't going to take it. He was ready to ask her if she was okay when she spoke.

What if I told you I don't really know why I'm mad?

Noah was surprised by that. He thought it would be obvious why she'd be mad: either because he dropped her or because they accidentally kissed. He could understand if her confused emotions made it hard for her to be specific, but she continued.

And if I told you I still kind of really hate you right now?

Noah paused, his gaze drifting around as he let Irene's last question hang in the air. There weren't any other students outside with them right now. The warm night air was filled with the sounds of cars passing by. Noah turned his attention back to Irene.

"Okay, I get that you're upset, but 'hate' seems a little extreme," Noah replied. "I mean, it was just an accident. You can be mad at me, but hating me is unnecessary."

Noah then sighed.

"And what do you mean 'still hate me'? Have you hated me this whole night?"
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It totally was extreme. Irene had to wonder if she'd ever actually known that was the case.

The boy behind her, shadow cast over her like all the world at that moment, she knew only what she liked to assume about him. He was weird and made stupid nonsense jokes. He didn't know his triggers from his guns. Bang bang. She had the vaguest urge, even with all that had transpired, for a bang. Everything went every way and at the center there was just her. Staring at a wall, which was a totally awesome way to pass a dance night! Her hand continued to scrabble over her face, etching her relief into skin as she not-so-gently tried to shove all the feels off. With every scrunch of palm her cheeks felt just a little less moist.

He was right, hate really was unnecessary. Even though she'd been kind of doing it for so long, in some sense. Somehow she was sure this had happened before.

She connected the dots. Little shapes, constellations, formed out of the pores and cracks in the concrete that was her horizon and night sky. Her eyes traced over and over the invisible lines of her whim. Her eyes stung a little less, maybe.

"... Here." She remembered something. It slipped out of the pocket of her hidden boyshorts with some digging under the hem of her dress and no fucks given. Mom and Asimah had gone the extra mile to find underwear with usable pockets in the event of dress wearing. Most practical purchase Irene had never made. Possible inadvertent flashing of passerby aside- heaven help anyone to stumble onto this mess of a scene- Irene found her mark, fiddled with it for a second, and then handed her phone over. The screen was occupied by an open text message. A draft, saved some time prior.

Last time this had been open she'd hated Noah about as much as she possibly did now. Last time this had been open she'd assumed...

'...and god damn it Noah do u even thnk about how a legit transgenderperson might even think about you? ...'
'...don't uthink it's slightly self-misogynist (? look this word up before sending_) that u lit. kill your female self or whatever that sht even is...'
'...and what the hekl is it u even talk about all the time with the dumb jokes nyways...'
'...byt dont get me wrng i totes think ud be attractiv all this shit aside(is this even relevant maybe remove)...'


And that was without scrolling. Big text, too, because who the hell could read little thingies on the stupid one micron screen phones came with?

Irene continued to stare unfailingly at the wall.
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Noah waited for Irene's response. He really loathed the idea that anyone could hate him. Disliking him would be tolerable because he could at least reason why they might not like him and they could simply stay separate from one another. But hate was something he really didn't want. That meant the person absolutely despised his existence and would probably wish hundreds of misfortunes upon him. Noah never wanted to be hated, and maybe comedy was his way of trying to get as many people to like him as possible.

Irene lifted her skirt up a bit and reached under. Noah averted his gaze out of respect for her. He already stole her first kiss, and he didn't need to see her panties. To his surprise, she pulled a phone out. From where, he wasn't entirely sure, but she had a phone out and was fiddling with it. She then handed him the phone, and he saw what she wanted to say to him.

'...and god damn it Noah do u even thnk about how a legit transgenderperson might even think about you? ...'
'...don't uthink it's slightly self-misogynist (? look this word up before sending_) that u lit. kill your female self or whatever that sht even is...'
'...and what the hekl is it u even talk about all the time with the dumb jokes nyways...'
'...byt dont get me wrng i totes think ud be attractiv all this shit aside(is this even relevant maybe remove)...'


Noah stared at the screen in silence. He wasn't sure when Irene wrote all of this, but it had to still be on her mind if she had it saved to her phone to be whipped out at a moment's notice. Noah could feel his heart starting to beat a bit and his eyes start to water a bit. She really hated him. It was clear she did, and she wanted him to feel hurt by this.

"Irene..." he began.

He briefly closed his eyes and breathed in for a few seconds before letting it out.

"...you really despise me, huh? I can't say I've never had someone vocalize their disgust with me like this. Well, aside from that time in middle school someone called me a fag and threw a milk carton at my head, but this tops that. With that incident, I could at least take a shower and change clothes and be okay afterwards. This I can't just wash away."

Noah could feel his voice starting to waver a bit.

"But clearly, you have a lot of questions, and I'll gladly answer them."

He wasn't sure why he decided to take that route, but he didn't feel like thinking otherwise. Irene was clearly ignorant on some of his matters, and he had time to educate her.

"How do I feel about reactions from transgender people? Well, I don't know if you know them, but Vincenzo? That one genderfluid individual in our class? We're friends. They get the whole drag thing and the exploration of gender thing, and they don't mind it at all. Yes, I have thought about what transpeople might think, but I haven't gotten any real backlash yet because I've made sure to not give them reasons to think I'm ignorant. I don't even use the T word.

"Next, 'Self-misogynist' is not a word. But how dare you assume I have no respect for women."

Now Noah was getting a little angrier. Irene was making a lot of assumptions about him, and some of these were really pushing him the wrong way.

"I was raised by a single mom who sacrificed so much for my sake. My grandmother has supported my passions since Day One and has helped me develop most of the skills I have. My stepmother is a great lady and one of my biggest supporters. My little sister is an amazing kid, and I know she's going to rule the world someday, and I believe she can do it. She doesn't even think what I do is weird because she doesn't see any reason to think so. My life has been shaped and supported by amazing women who all believe in my talents and want to see me go far with them. Just because I make jokes with a wig and skirt on doesn't mean I don't appreciate them or anyone with else two X chromosomes.

"Okay, 'what the heckle is it you even talk about all the time with the dumb jokes en-ee-ways?' That's fine with me. Comedy's subjective, and as long as you get three of the five jokes I throw out at a time, I've done my job well. I don't expect you to get everything I joke about. I don't know, maybe I'm a little too focused on reference humor, but I can work on that. I'm looking to grow as a comedian, and I can figure out what works and what doesn't.

"Oh, but I guess it's all okay because you think I'm attractive regardless of this. Obviously, you've got a thing for twinks, so that's good to know."

Now he didn't care. Irene may be sad because he accidentally kissed her, but she had really crossed a line by showing this.

"I have a question for you now, Irene: why did you invite me here tonight? You had this shit saved on your phone, ready to unleash it at any moment, and yet you still asked me out. You convinced me you liked me enough as a person that you could stomach a night out with me. You've also continually said I'm attractive, and yet you apparently can't stand me as a person. You're sending out too many mixed messages, and when you do, shit like tonight happens.

"But you know what, I think what really pisses me off is this line: 'Kill your female self or whatever that shit even is'. This is one of the worst things you could tell an LGBT person. Yes, I get that you're referring to my character, but this is really where you've gone too far."

Noah could start to feel a lump in his throat and a tear fall down his cheek. He didn't think Irene could make him this upset. Normally, he could just roll his eyes and make a joke, but he couldn't find anything funny right now.

"What you've essentially done by showing me this message is tell me that what I do, what I dedicate myself to, what I put time, money, and effort into, what I want to pursue, and what I've dreamed about doing since I was young, is completely worthless. You're telling me that I shouldn't do something that I enjoy and what plenty of other people enjoy all because you don't like me as a person. I have had to spend my whole life explaining myself to people. I have to convince people why I am the way I am and hope that they can accept it. For the most part, yes, I have found a community and plenty of people who love me and who want me to keep doing what I do.

"But for you, Irene, to act like you like me, or at least tolerate me, and then to write such hateful things that you probably hoped you could say to me once you found the chance, this is downright despicable. You're upset, and you're clearly not thinking properly, but this is way worse than what I did to you. I mean, have you even considered the possibility that I am trans, and that by doing drag, I could be trying to work out my own gender issues? I know plenty of drag queens who are trans and still perform after transitioning, and they don't see the craft like you do.

"For the record, no, I'm not transgender, but if I was, what you wrote right here could possibly fuel my own insecurities and possible add to any depressed or suicidal thoughts I might have.

"So if you were trying to hurt me or get back at me for that kiss, congrats, because you fucking succeeded. I hope you feel better now."

Now Noah didn't want to look at Irene. He turned slightly away, his grip tight on her phone. He wanted to chuck it across the parking lot, but he refrained from doing so. He had to be the bigger person here.
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What had she hoped to accomplish? Prove her point? Some word from the distantly all-too recent past came to mind. 'Extreme'. Maybe. She hadn't thought then, or then, or then, and definitely not now.

Way back then, Irene had written everything Noah had seen. Without much thought save impassioned irritation. Especially without thought spared for typos. Fingers fast then, as they weren't now. She took the time to write. She wasn't writing anything for reals, but the wall she had claimed as chalkboard buzzed with activity in her mind's eye. Sentences sweated from the pores of the concrete, traced by a nondescript imagination, line for line. 'Noah', and then 'do', and then 'you'. Somehow she could remember, however long ago it had been. Days? Months? Years, even though she hadn't known Noah that long? 'Think' was spelled correctly this time around. She began drifting down the y-axis, the sentence began to tilt. Actually writing didn't allow much freedom. Seemed better, much better, when it was all just in her head.

That was right. It was better. Wouldn't comfort Noah at all, but, well.

"... This I can't just wash away..."

... Well.

'Don't... 'you'... 'think'... Irene couldn't help her fingers helplessly flexing at her side, slow-dancing quietly against her thigh. Words were everywhere, in front, beside, especially behind her. Noah said things, she listened. For once, perhaps. She stared. As usual. Not at him. Her eyes didn't hurt anymore, but the more she listened the more she got the sense that she'd chosen the wrong time to stop crying. Seemed about right. Unlike her. Suddenly Irene didn't seem so right.

That wasn't right.

So she'd had the wrong idea. Self-misogynist wasn't a word. Accounting for that it was missing from what she was rewriting in air on the wall. Twink was a word, whatever it meant. Just a couple of little mistakes. Nothing she couldn't bounce back from. She had a perfect draft in front of her now. Noah hadn't even read the whole thing anyways. Everything that needed to be said, for her to once more be the one in the right. Real or otherwise, typos or otherwise. All right there. Her hand sat silent, waiting to be called to action to do something that would have no purpose anyways.

"... My little sister is an amazing kid, and I know she's going to rule the world someday, and I believe she can do it..."

Somehow that of all things stood out. Sounded familiar. There were a lot of little sisters, in this world.

How long had they even stood there? He had so many things to say. She didn't have a word, for all of the ones she'd pretended to write. She wanted to move her hand, flourish it somehow on her behalf. It kind of just flopped in a circle and then weakly settled from whence it came. He was continuing to say things. Things that she understood as much as she didn't want to. She wanted to somehow retort, make it so she was the one who had a reason to be mad again. She was supposed to be the right one. She couldn't be, even if she wanted to.

Her vocal cords only constricted, contracted, belts and ropes and whips tight. Nothing.

The only thought she had left to obey was to keep staring straight ahead. She refused to admit anything further.

"'... Kill your female self or whatever that shit even is'. This is one of the worst things you could tell an LGBT person. Yes, I get that you're referring to my character, but this is really where you've gone too far..."

You're the one who made the joke in the first place, Whitley. Irene wished she could remember that night. She saved the formless evidence as part of the now lively discussion not happening on the expanse of brick and mortar before her.

"... I have had to spend my whole life explaining myself to people. I have to convince people why I am the way I am and hope that they can accept it..."

This was all just a giant misunderstanding, just like the days she would say something stupid to mom and then mom would get furious and Irene would just mumble stuff and be exonerated. It happened all the time, literally all the time, with friends with family.

"But for you, Irene, to act like you like me, or at least tolerate me, and then to write such hateful things that you probably hoped you could say to me once you found the chance, this is downright despicable."

Sometimes saying things didn't work so well. Sometimes they made things worse. But no matter what Irene was always there. And she never really knew what to say, in hindsight.

Now, still, she didn't know.

She had to say something. Why was it so hard to say something? A refusal, an edict to the effect. It was so weird that she didn't want to cry right now. This was the time to cry. It was him, it was her. Noah Whitley, the boy-slash-apparent-twink she'd once thought she hated and was an insensitive jerk and thought he was so clever and smart when he totally wasn't. Irene Djezari, the...

She was proven wrong. In so many words. Somehow that didn't seem to matter. And Irene had nothing to say. She just had thoughts and visions but none of them were worth anything. To be fair, they were all right there. She had all the obvious apologies, corrections, rebuttals. The counterproposals, the evidence, the tangents. The anger, the fear, the desire. It was all still there. She had it all, she had...

... To be...

... Nothing to say. His stories were touching. His delivery, for once, made perfect sense. His accusations were justified. She had responses, but she had nothing to say. Irene always had a move. Usually ill-advised. But at least she'd always felt... something. Now she couldn't move at all. Couldn't feel anything at all. She could have run, screamed, cried at the very least. It would somehow prove something. Every instinct just wanted her to stay so still statues would sooner crumble away to eternity than she.

Funnily enough, with all Noah had said, she somehow did feel better. Negative to zero. But in terms of absolute value zero was handily the worst. However that metaphor translated to real life. It probably didn't, all things considered.

Maybe this all proved something in and of itself. Zen and all that.

Her eventual response was the first thing that came to mind that she didn't carefully, meticulously, infinitesimally curate in her stubborn silence. Just a few seconds, eternity, either definition of time sprung to mind for how long she'd stood there, unresponsive. She said it in a tone so even that she couldn't:

"You can break it, if you want... The phone." How helpful, that she specified. How that in anyway resolved anything was a question Irene herself didn't know the answer to.

Somehow it was logical. Noah got his fair shot at retaliation. Whatever came after at least, somehow, it was a step towards normalcy. Where all these words somehow made sense, where Irene was Irene again, whatever that entailed. And just like everything else Irene inevitably lost or broke she'd just come up with something, maybe sniffle a bit, and mom and sis would be halfway across the world to replace it on her behalf. The phone, it's contents, they didn't matter.

What did matter was her. Irene was the answer to the problem, it was all right there. She had to be something, anything... She was useless, that's what she was. Typical. She continued to not be willing to will herself to any further action, kept every muscle locked so tight she swore she'd snap in half at the shoulders from the strain, as much as she wasn't feeling anything at that moment. What words even reasonably described these feels? Come on, Webber... Trepidation? Stoicism? Callousness? Triggered?

Obviously most of what was happening in Irene's head wasn't really apparent. It was fast as the speed of thought and only exponentially more convoluted. It probably also wasn't really relevant in the grand scheme of things. What Noah heard, what he saw, that was what he got. An answer. A person.

Whatever the substance of either was.
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Noah let out a sigh as he rubbed his eyes. He was pissed off at Irene, but he wanted to keep some control over himself in this. He needed to be better at handling himself, especially when faced with criticism. He knew he couldn't feed the trolls who posted rude comments for his videos, and he knew there would always be people who didn't find him funny, but he also knew that completely falling apart because some girl wrote a hateful post on her phone and showed it to him would only show the weakness of his character.

Irene finally said something. She gave him permission to destroy her phone. Noah was't sure how she knew he was thinking about it, but it looked like it was one of the few times they were on the same wavelength. Noah tightened his grip on her phone. It would be easy to toss the phone to the ground and crush it with his foot, or to chuck it into the nearest street and hope a car ran over it. However, Noah realized that reckless destruction wouldn't make any difference. He had to make a point to Irene, and he had an idea on how.

"No, I'm not going to do that," Noah said to Irene. "I've got something else in mind."

Noah looked at the stupid post on the phone. His eyes quickly snapped back to Irene.

"Could you please turn around and look at me?" he asked, his voice stern.

Noah waited patiently as Irene turned to face him. She looked hesitant to do so, but eventually came face to face with Noah. She looked horrible from all the crying, but he ignored it. He needed to make a point to her, so he held the phone up so she could see the text.

"I could send this out," he told her. "I could send it to your parents, or your friends, or anyone of your other contacts. I could let everyone know how hateful you can be and the kind of stuff you'd write about your peers. I wonder if any of them know you think that way. I wonder what they'd think of you after reading this. But watch this."

Noah turned the phone around and began to click a few buttons. Her phone was similar to his, so he was able to quickly perform the action he wanted. With a few clicks, the lines of text Irene saved on the text draft began to disappear. In a few seconds, the bitter and poorly transcribed draft was gone.

"There. Just like that, it's gone," Noah said.

Noah held the phone out to Irene. He stared her directly in the eyes, wanting to ensure she got his point.

"Now only the two of us know that you're capable of writing something like this."
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He wasn't going to do it. Why not? It was the logical conclusion, at least Irene would have insisted if she could remember how to just open her mouth.

This kind of muted but intense tone of voice was somehow the worst, more than anything that was louder or more obvious or more terrifying. In that it wasn't any of those things, louder, obvious, terrifying. It was a voice that teetered on the edge of something, as much as Irene wished it could be otherwise. It was a voice that told her to turn around. She was supposed to keep looking at the wall. If she looked away she'd all these things that weren't on it. Her cheeks still felt moist and sticky under the appraisal of a lukewarm Kingman breeze. She could have raised her hand, tried to peel away more skin. All she needed to do was turn, so that's what she did. Each individual tense muscle needed it's own key to unlatch, it's own separate command to stand down. Moment by moment she creaked Noah's way.

That was weird. Why hadn't he done it? All those things he'd said that made perfect sense and then he'd gone and done something senseless. His fingers flickered. His eyes stared. Directly into hers, and she evenly met and exchanged the look. There was nothing she could transcribe into that particular surface. It was maybe a bit moister than she remembered. She'd remembered it all pretty and stuff. Now it was just... soft. Exposed. Weird how things changed like this all the time. Things all around her.

She remained.

Maybe she could speak now.

"... Thanks, Noah." Even tone. Thoughts arrive like butterflies. Oooh, she don't know... Man, as if her thoughts could have become any more irrelevant, irreverent.

It seemed to all feel right again. Something seemed wrong, but most things seemed right. She'd take that. It was familiar. Comfortable. The usual. Like all those other times when tears had been shed and exchanged. She'd just walk away. Unscathed, somehow. Forgiven. The little girl in over her head, let free to play while the grown ups talked. Thanks mom. Thanks sis. "I know I..." No. That was wrong. She never knew, and that definitely hadn't changed this time around. "... Maybe it's better we never talk again. I mean, you know." He knew, at least.

Noah. Whatever he was even supposed to be. "I'm... this kind of person." That was wrong, she wasn't. She wasn't. She wasn't. And yet she totally was. She had had everything, and now it was all gone. A first kiss, a clue. See ya. The logical conclusion. All that was left. "And this was probably inevitable, all this time. We can't be anything healthy, like this. You know. I...- Thank you. Thank you again."

Thanks Noah.

Had she ever blinked while she was responding? She didn't feel like she had. Not a single muscle she could remember shifting. Nothing, nothing at all, had changed.
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Noah continued to quietly stare at Irene as she let his last action sink in. She seemed thankful that he deleted the post instead of sending it out to anyone he could. Still, she seemed to have issues with what to say next. He couldn't blame her, but he still wasn't sure what she'd say next.

... Maybe it's better we never talk again. I mean, you know. I'm... this kind of person. And this was probably inevitable, all this time. We can't be anything healthy, like this. You know. I...- Thank you. Thank you again.

Noah closed his eyes and sighed.

"I don't think that will make anything better," Noah replied.

He opened his eyes, and looked at Irene.

"Look, we're a mess right now, and I think it's best we just take some time to be apart and mull over everything. If we refuse to communicate, then we're going to only feel like shit come graduation and leave feeling awkward and regretful."

Noah scratched the back of his head.

"So... let's just go our own ways for a bit. If you want to talk to me, feel free to talk to me. I'll do the same. I have issues with you, but hating you won't make anything better. Maybe we'll be on good terms in a day or a week or a month. Maybe we won't be ever again. At the very least, let's not act like we've passed some event horizon and can't at least be friendly acquaintances."

"That's what I think, at least."

Noah looked around the area. No one else seemed to be outside or coming out of the gym.

"So, what do you want to do now? Do you want to go back to the dance, or do you want to go home? I'll gladly take you home if that's what you want. Despite everything, I am your date and I feel responsible for you tonight, so I'll escort you safely home if that's what you wish."
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