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Let Me Borrow That Top
Topic Started: Jan 9 2018, 09:16 PM (827 Views)
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Myles Roux: Pregame Start

Late winter and early spring was a good time for blue. Maybe some pastels. Myles didn't normally do pastels, but an accent here or there would really pop if he could find something he liked. Grey fit the season and made a good base for whatever he decided to add to it, and would work well with silver if he decided to wear jewelry.

Keeping these things in mind, the thrift shop and kitschy boutiques along 34th Street should have given Myles plenty of options for the spring semester.

So.

Why the hell was everything on the clearance rack paisley?

Most of it was unseasonably bright too, electric pinks and eye-searing lime green and... just, orange. Myles hated orange. Both the color and the fruit. Not a fan of citrus in general, actually. Come to think of it, maybe that was why he also didn't care for lime green.

Myles stood, one arm crossed with the other elbow propped on it, fist pressed to his mouth as he alternately mused on fruits and stared at the clearance rack in disappointment. Maybe if he stared hard enough, the clothes on it it would transform into something that didn't offend his eyes. Or better yet, burst into flame.

Could you get an extra discount if something you were looking at spontaneously combusted in the store? For all any of the employees knew, he was considering buying some paisley monstrosity.

Well, actually. He hoped they wouldn't look at him and assume that based on his current outfit or anything. That would be worse than something actually catching fire while he stood there. He wasn't dressed for a special occasion or anything, but he certainly wasn't wearing neons in January like a shmuck. Distressed jeans, black sweater, gold chain-link necklace, and the gray Doc Marten boots that were actually the only pair of shoes he currently owned that weren't in danger of falling apart, which meant that Myles loved them and they would have to be taken from his frozen corpse if he were to give them up. None of that screamed "YES GIVE ME THE PAISLEY BUTTON-DOWN, GIVE IT NOW".

Myles gave the rack a half-hearted spin to see if anything would catch his eye in a good way. His kingdom for something in navy blue. Or even white. White wasn't too much to ask for in the middle of winter, right?

...Well, white that wasn't stained with coffee or something else suspicious might be too much to ask for in a secondhand store.

Myles sighed. Life was hard sometimes.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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** Madison Springer continued from... Hell You Talmbout

Few things in life captured Madison's interest long enough for her to make any decent attempt to excel at them, she'd try them once or twice or three times but never longer than it took her to realize she wasn't inherently gifted. If it didn't immediately capture her passion and she wasn't a natural, what was the point of trying and failing and having to deal with that realization? Other people, it seemed, were spoken to from a young age, beckoned by passion and drive, but Madison always felt she'd missed out on that. And if she wasn't passionate about something or gifted at something, was it worth working hard for?

There was no point in swimming if she knew she'd sink.

Working, for her, was no different. It wasn't something she was great at, nor something she felt any sort of fire for. It was a means to an end and nothing more and that's exactly how she treated it.

She scrolled down the website on her phone as she leaned against the counter wherein the register rested, a look of indifference worn on her face. She'd been at Thread Heads for a couple months now, not long enough for her to lose track, but enough to find her niche and not have to try to impress everyone. She'd tried for awhile, worked hard and fast, but, like many things before Thread Heads, she grew tired of it quickly. It was the same thing every day, fold, check out, stock, go home. Nowadays, she spent much of her shift on her phone, lulled into a stupor by the crooning of the newest indie bands on the stereo overhead.

If they hadn't fired her yet, they probably wouldn't, she figured. Maybe she'd just give them a reason.

Every once in awhile, she'd lift her eyes from her phone, either to help a customer or survey the store with disinterest.

Today, Myles Roux made an appearance. GHH students stopped in every so often, but rarely anyone she knew. The store itself more typically frequented by the local art-school dropouts eager to be different. She and Myles swam in the same circles, never long enough to become close, but they were as friendly as two people with their personalities could be. Sometimes, she'd think about inviting him to do something, hang out or just walk around town, but decide against it just as quick. He already had his close friends.

Bemused, she watched him for awhile as he thumbed through a nearby rack of clothes, evident disdain marking his face. She couldn't fault him. They didn't carry anything you'd see in a BDSM dungeon. Focusing her eyes back down at her phone, she continued scrolling through her gossip website, focusing heavily on the piercing voice of her far-to-friendly co-worker Brenda to distract her from Myles.

She would have said hi, had he noticed her. Maybe he did and just didn't want to talk to her.

She cleared her throat.

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((Tristan O’Hara: Start))

This was the time of year Tristan loved most. The bitter winter winds were finally starting to abate, and spring flowers were becoming a more regular sight on his morning walks. The only problem was how difficult it made choosing an outfit in the morning – did he dress for warm weather and have to brave the chilly outdoors if the early morning sun proved deceiving, or risk sweating up a storm in a jacket and knitwear? It’d been a few years since they’d made the trek to Tennessee, and he still hadn’t quite adjusted to the way the seasons functioned here.

Luckily, his outfit of the day had struck the perfect balance – so far, at least. A burnt orange knitted sweater, black skinny jeans, tan leather boots, and his usual newsboy cap and jewellery wasn’t the most fashion-forward of ensembles, but when it came to a day of shopping it did the trick. He’d just finished a large Biology assignment, and if anything warranted a bit of decompression and retail therapy, it was most assuredly science projects.

Thread Heads wasn’t his favourite store, but he’d found a gem or two in there in the past – a cute cream sweater and funky floral button-down – so what was the harm in checking it out? His presence announced by the gentle jingle of the overhead bell, he pressed pause on his phone and removed his earpods, stuffing them into the messenger bag swinging from his shoulder. Shopping required full concentration, and the dulcet tones of Lea Salonga would only serve to distract him.

It took only a moment for him to see a familiar sight thumbing through one of the racks. Myles Roux was a secret sweetheart beneath that gossipy veneer and the odd nights they’d spent together left only good memories in Tristan’s mind. His sense of fashion was killer too – and although their styles didn’t align perfectly, they were similar enough that Tristan often found himself drifting towards past outfits of Myles’ for inspiration if his wardrobe was proving unexciting on any given day.

“Myles! How’s it going, dude?” He offered the other boy a friendly wave and a smile, slowly sauntering in his direction.

He caught a glimpse of one of the girls on duty out of the corner of his eye, and found he recognised her too. Madison Springer was a bit of an enigma to him – he’d heard plenty about her, sure, but hadn’t really gotten the chance to interact one-on-one.

Still, it’d be rude to toss a greeting in Myles’ direction but not to her.

“Oh, hey Madi! Hope the grind’s not proving too hard today.”
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The clearing of a throat somewhere nearby had brought Myles back to reality a bit, but it wasn't until Tristan made himself known that the surroundings grabbed Myles's attention again. He looked up and gave Tristan a smile out of habit before cottoning onto the fact that there was in fact somebody else that he knew here. He had seen Madison, but hadn't really seen her when he first came in, eyes taking in her presence and then dismissing it like she was any other employee.

"Oh, hey Tristan!" Myles nodded in the direction of the counter as well. "Madison! I didn't know you worked here." Madison was a bitch, but the sort whose good side Myles tried to stay on. They knew too many of the same people and she was too good at making lives hell when she set her mind to it, which was often. Plus, you never wanted to be the person who got the employees mad at you. Myles had heard plenty of retail horror stories from his mom and her coworkers, to say nothing of his own experiences wrangling the checkout line at Whole Foods. (Yes, Whole Foods. They were pretentious as all get-out and Myles couldn't have afforded most of their health nut stock even if he had wanted it, but he had a winning customer service smile that the manager had liked and the pay was good enough.)

Point being. There were a lot of things Myles was alright with being, but the target of ire and mockery by the employees of some slightly sketchy thrift shop wasn't one of them.

He stepped away from the clearance rack, the better to distance himself from the dark secrets that it held, lest they begin trying to exert their power over him.

Tristan, though. There were definitely some dark forces already at work there, if the sweater was anything to go by. Tristan was a cutie and had a lot of other good traits, but color coordination wasn't one of them.

...Maybe it would be a good plan to block Tristan's view of the clearance rack before he got any ideas. Save him from himself, and all that.

Accordingly, Myles's smile returned even brighter than before, and he stepped forward to cement himself as the focus of attention between Tristan and the checkout counter where Madison stood. "What's up with you two?"
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Madison pretended not to notice Tristan, glancing toward the door for only a split second when the bell announced him before becoming suddenly more engrossed in the going-ons of Hollywood. Tristan fit the same mold as the boy before him, someone she knew tangentially, but not someone she'd ever shared a bond with. Not without want, but she knew how it'd go. He'd see Myles and they'd laugh and twirl and be gay and merry and then they'd move along. And Madison would stand behind her counter and pretend not to watch, busy herself cleaning something or folding something, because what minnow wanted to play with a shark? Same story, different day.

That was fine, she decided. They probably sucked, anyway.

But they said hi and she immediately unconsciously brushed some of her loose fringe behind her ear and returned their smiles. It wasn't wide, or even particularly warm, her eyes didn't wrinkle at the their edges, but it was enough, more than most people got from her. Tristan asked her something that she couldn't understand through his accent and lisp, sounding more like he was chewing rocks than speaking English, but she nodded nonetheless in hopes it was an adequate answer. Myles mentioned not knowing she worked at Thread Heads, but, like, no shit? You can't really know much about a person you've never made the effort to get to know. He could probably name a thousand and one things she'd done to people or said to people, but couldn't even be bothered to find out where she worked. Typical.

“I'm working,” She responded dryly to Myles' inquiry, as if there were any other response to the question.

She turned her attention back to Brenda, still chatting happily with a couple customers in the corner of the store, hemming and hawing and lightly touching their shoulders when they said something funny. Bitch. It was effortless for her. Her attention back on the boys once more, Madison straightened from her lean and let her phone leave her grasp. If Brenda could do it, why couldn't she? Brenda sucked.

“I can help you guys find something, if you want. Most of it's pretty shitty, but we have some cool stuff in the back that we haven't put out yet.”

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“I’m not up to much!” Tristan offered by way of reply to Myles’ greeting. “Just finished a killer assignment so I thought I’d treat myself a little.”

He flashed Myles a small smile and quirk of an eyebrow, before bashfully looking away just as quickly to focus his attention back to Madison. He hoped it wouldn’t go unnoticed – it didn’t hurt to put in a little groundwork, to remind Myles that he was only a text away should he ever want company of the more salacious kind.

He gave the store a quick once over as Madison spoke, wondering if anything would catch his eye. The sales rack of Thread Heads always proved tempting – he could be convinced to buy or wear most anything if the dent to his wallet was small enough. He caught a glimpse over Myles’ shoulder of a cute orange scarf and began to mull over whether he should reach for it when Madison spoke of something much more enticing. A VIP-exclusive look at some fresh stock? Well, ‘VIP’ might have been a bit of a stretch, but Madison’s offer certainly made Tristan feel a little special. He always enjoyed it whenever a salesperson took a more hands-on approach. Too often he’d walk into a store and wind up meandering aimlessly about without so much as a greeting from anybody working, which only served to leave a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Ooh, I’m down!” Tristan chirped, jostling his bag as he spoke. “I’ve got a decent chunk of birthday and Christmas money left over, so I’m looking to spend up!”

He figured he probably would, too. Walking into a store with little concrete ideas of what to buy had led to many an impulse and unplanned purchase in the past, but luckily he had Myles and Madison to provide some direction. It had been too long since he and Myles had shopped together, and he always valued the other boy’s eye and second opinion. Madison’s style was cute too – not usually the sort of thing he’d immediately consider buying, but it was clear she put effort and thought into what she wore.

There would no doubt be a bit of variety in the backspace, so it felt only appropriate to provide some clarity for Madison’s sake, at least.

“I was thinking of getting a new jacket, but that’s about as far as specifics! I’m pretty open-minded, to be honest.”

He’d heard the odd rotten thing about Madison, but so far she was defying all his preconceived notions about her. It was always nice when that happened.
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Myles caught Tristan's meaningful look and returned the smile. He also caught the glance that Tristan threw at the sales rack and consciously moved to better obscure his view of it, though realistically, Tristan was a full head taller and could probably see it well enough no matter where Myles stood. It was the principle of the thing.

"That does sound exciting!" He said to Madison. "I didn't really have anything specific in mind, but I wouldn't mind a few more options to look through." There, that was enough of an implication that the selections on display sucked without outright saying so, right?

He followed Madison's quick glance over at the older saleslady, since things seemed to be moving in a direction that probably landed in at least a gray area of store rules, but the older woman was engrossed in chatting up another customer. The wheels in Myles's mind were already turning on how to best get out of trouble without too obviously throwing Madison under the bus, should they turn out to cross some sort of line; he liked to have a detailed exit plan as early and as often as possible, but the really thorough ones usually weren't necessary.

"I'm totally down to check it out - if that's what you're offering, of course."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Madison fought the slackening of her jaw and the deadening of her eyes, the struggle of parsing through Tristan's speech worn evident on her face. Did anyone understand this kid? Like, ever? Listening to him was akin to watching one of those foreign movies where everything is innocuous sounds and babbling until there's that one English word that you can latch on to. She quickly glanced at Myles, hoping to find him having just as hard a time as she'd been, but he seemed to be completely and thoughtfully engrossed in the taller boy's words. How? Maybe it was just her, born devoid of the magical gene of super-translation, able to identify the softest of words through the garbled trash or maybe the words found themselves lost to the indie pop on their journey from him to her.

Whatever it was, it was annoying and she could feel what little patience she had slipping away from her. Asking him to repeat himself over and over again was both idiotic and embarrassing. Slow down please, I've only been speaking English for eighteen years, I couldn't possibly follow.

“Yeah...” She conceded, her voice coming out in a long, unimpressed drone, having ascertained 'jacket' and 'money' from his veritable shit-show of a sentence.

“We have a couple okay ones. I was supposed to get them out on the floor earlier, but,” She shrugged, pulling her loose hair into a sloppily bun on the top of her head just so she'd have something to distract her from the fraying of her nerves. “You know how it is.”

Pulling back the beaded curtain separating the sales floor from the backroom, she beckoned the two boys behind the counter with the a come-hither hand, catching a glance toward Brenda from Myles. She stifled an eyeroll.

“Don't worry about Brenda, she's not gonna say shit.”

She wouldn't. Brenda knew better than to argue with Madison. Madison was far louder and angrier than Brenda could ever hope to be. And what would she even say? Go to their boss and tell her Madison was selling items to customers? Hoo-boy, bad employee, Madison. Bad, bad.

The backroom itself was fairly messy, one side full of boxes of donated clothes that had yet to be sorted along with several rows of tables for aforementioned sorting stacked with articles meant for hangers out on the sales floor. On another side, more boxes of already sorted clothes that had been denied and sentenced to a life in the dump that had yet to be taken to the dumpster out back. Another one of Madison's duties for the day, but you know how it is.

“Voilà,” She said, still holding the curtain open as the boys passed by her, “Go nuts, Charlies.”

There was a looming uneasiness painting her subconscious. She felt bizarre and fake, almost. As if she was far away from herself, like there was an expectation of how she should act at all given points in time, a road map that she'd written herself through her actions that guided the opinion of her. And if she didn't, she was lying and people would think she was lying or putting on a show. And maybe she was. Was it lying to act in a way that was wholly against your natural instinct? Even if you desperately wanted the lie to be real?

“And don't mess anything up.”

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Tristan perked up when his smile was reciprocated, the energy he usually radiated elevated even further by the quirk in Myles’ lips. He’d always been a cutie, but there was something in Myles’ smile that just gave him such a glow and brought him to a whole other level. Truthfully, it mightn’t have meant anything – perhaps just a friendly gesture with no deeper intent behind it. He’d have to see next time they were partying together. It’d been awhile since Tristan had been to a substantial social gathering, but with school starting back up again and assignments being heaped on everybody from every direction, it seemed a fitting time for them to kick back and decompress with a drink or twelve.

He tucked the thought away in the back of his mind for later pondering as Madison led him and Myles into the backspace. There were more immediate issues at hand than the thought of a nice bottle of Rosé and getting into Myles’ pants.

Glancing around the admittedly chaotic selection of clothing, Tristan felt his heart soar. There was little else more enticing than a new addition to his wardrobe, and the scattering before them seemed to brim with possibilities. Were nobody around, it would’ve been difficult to resist the urge to dive straight in.

“Wow,” Tristan breathed, threading his fingers together in anticipation. “Thanks heaps, Madison – you’re a gem!”

He approached one of the half-open boxes and glanced inside; right from the off-set there were two jackets that caught his eye immediately, and Tristan tilted his head as he reached down into the box, picking them up with as much gentility as he could muster through his excitement. It was kind of Madison to let them back here, and it wouldn’t do to repay her generosity by making even more work for her.

“What do you think?” He held up a jacket in either hand – a dusty purple corduroy shacket in his left and a gold bomber with maroon accents in his right – and glanced between them and the two shopping companions before him.
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Myles would have been perfectly happy to dive right into whatever potential treasure trove Madison had led them to, but for now he stepped back and clasped his hands in front of his chest as he looked over the items Tristan had made a beeline for.

Tristan had a goal and frankly, he needed all the help he could get. Myles's own, less guided browsing could wait until disaster was averted.

At least he could breathe a sigh of relief that they had left the clearance rack and its horrors behind.

"Mmm..." He tilted his head to the side, considering. Personally, Myles would have gone for the gold right away, if not for the maroon. He still probably would have settled on it over the purple, since metallics could act as neutrals easily enough; something all in white, black, gray, or brown with just the jacket for that pop of color could work.

Tristan... didn't work with his color palette quite like that. Mainly because he enjoyed wearing the entire thing all at once.

"Are you looking for an all-occasion jacket, or do you have something special in mind?"

Myles glanced over at Madison, inviting her to chime whenever she wanted, just so that she wouldn't start to feel ignored.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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And just like that; Madison, with her sloppy bun and outfit purchased directly off of a mannequin at Forever 21, and Myles, decked out in all his bad 90s soft Goth glory, had suddenly become Tristan's fashion advisers. While she wasn't necessarily thrilled with the new job title, which may or may not have been part of her job to begin with, she couldn't help but watch with bemused horror as Tristan bee-lined for the boxes on the right side of the room. Of all the clothes neatly folded on the tables in front of him, primed and ready to be transferred to the sales floor and practically begging him for his attention, he'd gone straight for the rejects- the stuff their store guidelines had deemed unfit for purchase, either because of some weird stain or a rip or just simply for not matching the aesthetic Thread Head's was trying to sell.

In fairness, she hadn't exactly given him the lay of the land, but she figured it was pretty self-explanatory? And, honestly, part of her felt like that wouldn't have stopped Tristan anyway. She had to respect that. Or at the very least see the humor in it.

But that didn't mean he had to pull out the two ugliest things in the box of rejects. Corduroy was for Mormons, creepy truck drivers, and Ted Bundy. The bomber jacket was only better by a very slim margin, but still felt like something she'd see a B-Squad stripper wearing during the daylight hours.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she watched Myles mull over the jackets in question, obviously carefully picking the right words. He knew they were ugly. She knew they were ugly. All of Chattanooga would surely know they were ugly if she and Myles didn't step in and it was resoundingly clear that that wasn't something Myles was ready to do. He was probably being a good friend and avoiding hurting Tristan's feelings, but she'd want someone to be brutally honest with her. Mostly.

She shifted her gaze when Myles looked to her for back-up, slightly resentful that the shorter boy was leaving her with all the dirty work. Her opinion would have come out either way, especially considering he'd asked for it, but it would've been nice not to have to initiate the cold hard truths. She could've lied, but she'd never been good at it. It made her feel dirty.

“They're both really ugly, Tristan,” She said, face and voice devoid of emotion, “And those are the garbage boxes. Like, stuff that not even we're gonna sell and you've seen the stuff we have out there.”

Absently, she picked at her thumb nail. She could have worded it differently, used some kid gloves or sprinkled some sugar over top, but she'd never been very good at that either. If he got upset over asking her opinion and not liking it, that was his bad, not hers. Connor constantly harangued her to choose her words more carefully, but she wasn't like him, hobnobbing with the elite since he was in diapers. Her playmate growing up was her retarded little sister, whom wasn't exactly one to demand refinement.

“I mean like, if you're really into them, just take both, I guess? We were just gonna throw them out, anyway. You can just take that whole box if you really wanted to, honestly.”

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Tristan nodded dutifully while Myles and Madison relayed their feedback on his chosen jackets. While Myles remained fairly neutral, instead inquiring for what occasion he’d be wearing the jacket in question, Madison was a resounding ‘no’. He knew Myles, and the lack of enthusiastic reception about either option said a lot beneath its veneer. Madison was upfront, and though it stung that she’d rejected the jackets so outright, the honesty was refreshing. It felt like there was no need to second guess or search for subtext beneath her words.

As he mulled over Madison’s critique, he chose to respond to Myles’ query, fiddling with the bracelet around his wrist as he did so.

“Something more every day, I think. You know I love a statement item, Myles, but I love when it’s versatile enough that I can dress it up and dress it down too.”

Madison’s offer for him to just take the whole box for free was tempting, but Tristan knew if he accepted and came home with a cardboard container brimming with new clothing his parents would rightfully assume he’d paid for it all. That would cue a half hour’s worth of chastising and lectures about how he should be savvier with his money before he could get a word in edgeways. He’d then have to explain that no, he didn’t blow all his money on yet another turtleneck or pair of Doc Martens, but rather that a friend from school had used her clout to get it all for him free of charge. That would perk them up, and they’d ask if she was really his friend or more like a ‘friend’, because he hadn’t been with a girl for awhile. Tristan was fine with that – it wasn’t like he lacked for that sort of company – but his parents always held their breath and prayed and hoped he’d gotten himself a girlfriend on the rare occasion he felt in the mood to discuss his romantic life with them.

No, better to just leave the box – and all the uncomfortable conversations it might bring with it – for now, and reconsider Madison’s suggestion if the rest of the room proved less fruitful than he anticipated.

“Hmm, you’re probably right, Madi. I trust ya!” Tristan gently placed the jackets back where they belonged, and directed his gaze at the ready-to-rack table. There was a nice stack of button-down shirts staring right at him, and though they weren’t exactly at the top of his list when it came to wardrobe replenishment, he figured one could never have too many shirts, right?

Well, that was debatable and Tristan knew it. Too often he would look in his wardrobe and find himself so overwhelmed by how many shirts he owned and the potential outfits that came with them. Nevertheless, he found himself flicking through the stack before settling on another pair of options – a pale chartreuse one with a funky, monochromatic geometric print, and a pale blue one printed with black bicycles. He didn’t own a lot of yellow tones, and the blue was a versatile choice (and he’d be able to pair it with the navy blue bike socks Sam had gotten him for Christmas). He pondered them both for a moment, hoping they’d score a better reception than either of his jackets did.

He glanced over at Myles, prepared to ask the room’s opinion of his newfound choices when a pang of conscience struck him. As nice as it was to be the centre of attention, he hoped he hadn’t usurped it all from the other boy and left him feeling neglected. So rather than draw focus onto the shirts in his hands, he instead chose to turn to him and say,

“See anything you’re keen on, Mylo?”

Nicknames were an old hack for Tristan – they were fun and a nice way of showing affection without being too forthright about it – but ‘Mylo’ was a new one. It was risk, but he felt comfortable enough around both Myles and Madison to try it out.
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Myles was on a roller coaster of emotion. Relief that Madison had said what he was thinking so that she could be the bad guy instead of him, followed by a brief but intense pang of dismay when she tried to offload the whole box of undoubtedly monstrous finds onto Tristan like someone passing a cursed artifact onto its next unsuspecting victim. Then relief again when Tristan abandoned both of the jackets, and a warm amusement at the new nickname he had suddenly been bestowed.

His mouth quirked up into a smile that wasn't entirely for show as he turned to properly survey Madison's offerings. "I didn't have anything really particular in mind, to be honest. Just something to spruce up the old winter wardrobe, you know?" Never mind that it would be spring soon. Spring would... sprung? Was that past-tense only? Well anyway, it would do its thing when it got around to it, and Myles would take that as it came. The weather in Tennessee could be unpredictable here at the foot of the mountains.

He shot a glance at the shirts in Tristan's hands. That was an easier decision than the jackets, at least. "Go for the blue, by the way." The other shirt was... chartreuse or something? It was an ugly color. Maybe he should stop listing that as his eye color on surveys. Then again, plain green was kind of boring and hazel-but-not-really-it's-mostly-green-but-there's-a-bit-of-hazel-in-there was too long for most survey response spaces.

Myles blinked a couple times to clear his thoughts and turned back to Madison. "Hey, if I find anything that doesn't deserve to be burned in that box, is it still free?" Much like a particular oaken puzzle box, Myles suspected he would find only pain and suffering in the rejects crate, but the possibility of finding a hidden gem and getting it for free was too good to pass up without at least asking.

He had a lot of black in his closet right now, so maybe a nice blue sort of like what Tristan had with that shirt - minus the bicycles, of course - would do. Myles could handle most blues that weren't pastel or electric. The gold jacket had put the idea in his head to try something a bit bolder too, if he could-

Ooh, green-gold! He could start listing his eye color as green-gold. That sounded much better than hazel and was easier to spell than chartreuse. And probably wouldn't be as ugly on a shirt.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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are you upset?
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There were few things in life that Madison hated more than being called Madi, Mads, or any variation thereof and she could immediately feel her body tense up from its previously relaxed position on instinct alone. Madi was pigtails and sticky fingers, dog days of summer make-believe and puppy love, empty promises that stress was the only reason for the arguing and reassurance that everything would be fine.

She was Madison- just the three syllables; only one more than Madi. Surely he could manage.

“Yeaaah, no probs,” She intoned, unable to mask the distaste in her voice, “Stan.”

Everything in her screamed at her to slam her foot on the brakes and stop the train before it even left the station, but it wasn't worth bringing up, especially when she knew that she was already irritated and that her irritation wasn't conducive to gentle wording. She knew he hadn't meant harm, told herself he couldn't possibly know and that it was just a name and it was fine. And yet, she found herself with arms woven tightly over her chest as she struggled to regain her composure, feeling both wholly out of control of her body language and acutely horribly aware of the picture she was painting.

What a time to pick to start being intelligible, Tristan.

She was grateful for the brief respite when Tristan and Myles talked amongst themselves, if not envious of how easily it seemed to come to them. They were so sure of themselves, able to brush things off like it was nothing. Annoyingly so, even, to the point she found herself briefly planning what she could possibly say to cut them if she needed to. And then summarily wondering why that was her first instinct and what the fuck was wrong with her.

At that point, she wanted nothing more than to sneak out and rejoin fucking Brenda of all people on the sales floor and leave them to their devices and maybe she could have, had Myles not roped her back in. She'd heard murmurings of the Roux family's financial situation, typical gossip that she neither cared about nor was sure of the credibility, but was nonetheless dredged up from the depths of her subconscious when he inquired about the box's pricing. Part of her wanted to ask him if he was that hard up, but she didn't.

“No, just Tristan, sorry. I like him more.” She should have smiled, but she didn't, finding it harder to care the longer she was with them.

“Kidding.”

“Literally just take the whole box. If you don't like anything in there, just throw it in a bonfire or on a homeless guy or something.”

Anything, please.

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Tristan could feel a prickle roll down his spine and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end at Madison’s comments. He shot a quick glance in her direction, and the stance she’d taken – arms crossed over and expression soured – seemed a sharp turnaround from the moderate enthusiasm she’d displayed when he’d entered the store. He’d been enjoying their little trio, but if the clipped nature of Madison’s speech was anything to go by, it seemed she was of the opposite opinion.

Choosing to ignore her jab at Myles, he instead followed the other boy’s advice, placing the chartreuse shirt back down and holding the bicycle one to his chest. He wanted to choose his next words carefully – from what he’d heard, Madison’s ire was not something he wanted to be on the receiving end of. At the same time, he didn’t have enough experience interacting with her to really judge her reactions or gauge what might get a rise out of her. He quickly mentally recounted their conversation so far, searching for something, anything that might’ve curdled her mood. Perhaps he’d been too affectionate with Myles? Madison didn’t seem the sort who liked to be touched, as though she might swat him across the room if he so much as touched her arm.

Or maybe it was the nickname? He’d initially thought ‘Madi’ to be fair game, but if she was opposed to affection of the physical kind, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to suggest that might’ve shortened her fuse as well.

“Really? You’re too kind.” He opted not to end his sentence with another iteration of her name – ‘Madi’ might prove his theory right, ‘Madison’ might be too quick a turn around and arise her suspicion. He hoped the compliment might soothe her a little, at the very least. Not wanting to be left alone if he’d taken a wrong step, he went to close the gap between himself and Myles, brushing his hand over the other boy’s shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. He was glad years of performing had taught him how to cover trepidation in his movements and speech – it wouldn’t have been nice for all his efforts at keeping Madison’s cool to be undone by a waver in his voice or shaking in his step.

He turned to make eye contact with Myles, tilting his head as he spoke.

“I’m not up to much for the rest of the day, and my parents are out at my aunt and uncle’s, so if you’re free maybe we could go back to mine and suss through it together?”

He punctuated his suggestion with a wink – it might’ve been better to err on the side of subtlety, but too often subtlety led to miscommunication and disappointment, and Tristan had had enough of either of those for a lifetime.
Version Seven:
Tristan O’Hara
Dorothea Rodriguez
Ariana Simpson


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