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Flames on the Blue; Open!
Topic Started: Mar 20 2018, 05:57 PM (302 Views)
Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Katie Agustien continued from V for Vend-etta))

She leaned against the railings, looking up at the dark grey sky, watching her plume of cigarette smoke appear in front of her eyes before mingling with the clouds and vanishing into the ether. It had been threatening to rain all day. The storm clouds hanging above her head looked like they could erupt any moment now. This wasn’t the weather for running in. This wasn’t the weather for doing anything outside in. This was the exact sorta day you stayed at home, got yourself some snacks, and watched Netflix, or some shit like that.

She snorted, and flicked ash down into the river below, the water a slate grey to match the sky above. Yeah. Great idea. Great idea, until you remembered that home was a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Home, which never felt like home when her father was there. Even when she wasn’t in the same damn room as him, she could hear him when she was lying on her bed, through the floorboards, muttering in the kitchen. Every word disapproving of what she did. Every sentence a kick in the spine from someone who should have had her back.

This wasn’t the day for running. But it was the perfect day to finally get some goddamn release.

She looked down at the cigarette in her hand, the soft orange glow the brightest thing in the whole world right now. It was a bad habit, and she knew it, one that was counterintuitive to the thing that gave her the most joy in the whole world. She wasn’t proud of it. Not in the slightest. Another reason to go out in weather like this. She’d escaped the house to avoid judgement, after all.

But on days like this, it felt like something would finally crack irreversibly if not for that bad little habit.

Katie took another drag of her cigarette and stared up into the clouds, thinking of nothing and everything at once.
V7 BAYBEE

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Saffron Fields: Start

Saffron looked up at the gray sky. A lot of people would probably call it gloomy, but that descriptor really didn't seem to fit in her opinion. Sure, it was dim and not really the prettiest color around, but it didn't really do anything to bring her down. It was kind of soft and soothing, the kind of sky that makes you want to just spend a lazy day indoors, not least of which because it usually acts as a harbinger for coming rain.

But before the rain came, there was always a wonderful feeling in the air. It felt vaguely misty, not nearly as wet as the rain that was sure to follow, but cool enough to be refreshing. It was the kind of atmosphere that was perfect for a brisk walk in the park. It was probably not the best idea to stay out for too long thanks to the almost definite oncoming rain, but she just couldn't resist being outside when the air felt so good. It was one of those things that she just had to experience, even when she already knew what it felt like.

Saffron's walk led her along the riverfront, and eventually to the bridge. It seemed like a fitting location. After all, where better to enjoy cool, refreshing air than by a cool, refreshing river? It just made sense. She followed the river without a care, taking in the sound of the gentle rushing of the water. The effect was almost therapeutic, taking her focus away from the things that bothered her and letting her focus on the simplicities of nature.

It was at the bridge that she happened upon one of her classmates. Katie was tall and super-fit, the type of person that was hard to miss, and definitely the type to catch Saffron's attention. She was in the middle of enjoying a cigarette, sort of an unusual time and place to do so, but Saffron wasn't a smoker, so she couldn't really judge her choice of places to indulge. She brought her pace to a stop and leaned against a railing nearby, using her voice to draw Katie's attention.

"Lighting one up, huh?"
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Pippin
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Katie exhaled, before putting the cigarette to her lips again, letting herself wallow in the mire of her thoughts, letting her mind wander, as the nicotine kept her grounded, stopping any of those thoughts from raising her ire too much. She was thinking of possibilities and answers, rather than pulling herself into a cycle of getting madder and madder at her own thoughts.

It was something her therapy had helped with, and God, was she thankful that she could do it. She just wished she didn’t need this little stick of tobacco and tar to help get her into this state.

She looked out across the water again, and thought of Boston. She missed it, sometimes, on days like this especially. Someday, she’d go back to it; maybe just to visit, maybe to stay. Who knew? It all depended on where her boxing career took her, because she’d be fucking damned if her dad was going to stop it from taking off. Sooner, rather than later, she was gonna break away from him. Run away with a super cute girl to live together. Send him photos of them both, just to piss him off. Mmmm, man, now that was a dream to aspire to.

A voice from behind Katie disrupted her thoughts, and she quickly spun around, cursing under her breath, heart suddenly pounding. Goddamnit. She was normally way more vigilant than this. There were a bunch of people that she liked, and that she knew liked her, who’d lose all respect for her if they saw her lighting up. And if her parents had decided on taking a stroll for whatever reason… if it had been mom, it probably would have been okay. If her dad had caught her? She might as well have started packing her bags right there and then.

But, luckily, it was just one Saffron Fields standing in front of her, and so Katie felt no reason to hide anything, as she raised the cigarette to her mouth again and stared the other girl down. Saffron was… complicated. She was cute, and she was bubbly, and she was out as Katie was, so when everything was going well in Saffron’s world, Katie was absolutely fine with her. The issue was when things weren’t going well, and Saffron was getting frustrated, putting the two of them together was like putting gasoline and a lit match together and wondering why your house had burned down.

Katie exhaled again, and for a moment, debated whether to let the sarcastic reply that was bubbling inside of her break free. No, Saffron, she wasn’t lighting up, she was cooking a fucking risotto. Soon, though, the temptation left her. Things looked like they were going fine with Saffron. No reason to strike a match so soon.

“Yeah,” was all Katie said, before turning back to face the water again, folding her arms and resting them on the railings. She sighed, and looked at Saffron.

“It’s one of those days, y’know? One of those days that just needs a quick fix."
V7 BAYBEE

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Saffron remained unfazed as Katie turned around with a jolt. Judging by how she tried to hide her cigarette, the reason seemed pretty obvious. Saffron could name quite a few people who were dead-set against smoking, especially in the case of a young athlete like Katie. While Saffron wasn't a smoker herself, nor did she have any desire to start, she wasn't going to hassle anyone about it. Personal choices and all that. Besides, Katie was still healthy enough to box, so she didn't deem it a major problem.

She let her shoulders rest on the railing, propping her foot against the bottom for a bit of extra support. She was already planning on enjoying the weather, so now that the opportunity had presented itself, she might as well share it with someone. The air felt a bit mistier now, and the cloudy sky a bit grayer. Well, providing that it could have looked much grayer in the first place.

"Bad day?" Saffron asked the obvious, giving Katie a sympathetic look. "Want to talk about it?"
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She looked at Saffron for a little while, sorely debating two separate things in her mind. The first was whether to tell the girl that she was absolutely incredible at stating the goddamn obvious. Nah, Katie was having an absolutely stellar day. Why else would she be staring melodramatically across the river with a cigarette in her hand under a stormy sky? That was totally something people in good moods did, right?

She decided not to say anything on that front, in the end, but it sure as hell made the other debate hard to come down on either side for. That being: how much was Katie gonna tell her?

Her initial thought was ‘nothing at all’, but if there was one thing Katie had learned on her time on Earth, it was that keeping everything that was pissing you off all bottled up inside of you caused nothing but trouble later on down the line. The worst part was, when she was really pissed off, it made it real tricky to think straight and heed her own advice. Thank God, once again, for the haze of nicotine-fuelled nothingness clouding her mind.

Katie looked at Saffron for a moment longer, then sighed. She stubbed her cigarette out on the railing before flicking it onto the ground next to her. She’d pick it up later. Maybe. Depended on how this conversation went, really.

“Sure, why not?” she muttered. “Not like you’ll ever have the misfortune of meeting my dad, so you can tell him just how much I’ve been shit-talking him, after all.”

Really, that sentence alone was all Saffron needed to know about Katie’s current predicament. Her dad was the problem, end of story. Course, Saffron would probably like to know a little bit more about why that was, and what the hell, Katie felt like telling her. Saffron was relatively harmless. And, again, getting this off of her chest would make her feel a little better.

Katie dug her hands into her pockets, pulling out her packet of cigarettes with her right hand, her left hand still searching around for her lighter. She angled the packet slightly in Saffron’s direction.

“You smoke?”
V7 BAYBEE

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"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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Saffron looked at the cigarettes that Katie offered her. She had many reasons for no wanting to accept them. She hated the smell, hated the taste even more, and lung cancer wasn't on her list of things that she had any intentions of experiencing. None of those seemed like they would be particularly helpful to bring up at the moment, though. She held up her good hand to make a small barrier between herself and the cigarettes, making her stance before she even had to say a word.

"Nah, not me. Thanks for the offer, though."

With that offer refuted, she had time to unpack the rest of what Katie had said. Family issues, huh? Or father issues, from the sound of it. Saffron didn't have much experience in that field, personally. That wasn't to say that she didn't know some people had shitty parents, but her own parents were almost always very pleasant. She figured that anything less than that must really suck, and with Katie hanging out on the middle of the park, smoking alone on an overcast day, that hypothesis seemed to have a pretty solid foundation.

Now Saffron was no therapist, but she considered herself a pretty good listener, and that might be good enough for now. She returned to her relaxed lean and looked back up at Katie's face.

"So what's your dad's problem?"
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Katie shrugged. Her left hand finally found the object of its search, wrapping around her lighter and pulling it out, whilst her opposite number performed the action in reverse, dipping into her opposite pocket, returning with just a single cigarette between her fingers.

“You’re smarter than me, then.”

She put the cigarette in her mouth, lighting it, other hand protecting the delicate flame from the wind. The lighter disappeared into her pocket again. The smoke drifted away to mingle with the clouds, and Katie looked up, staring away into the sky.

You know, she’d never considered herself to have a flair for the dramatic, but maybe she was gonna have to reconsider that stance. She was overegging this, and she knew it, but hell, she kinda felt like a situation like this deserved it. Practically nobody knew much about Katie’s family life, after all, and Saffron was no Ivy, and not just in the horticultural sense; she wasn’t liable to go blabbing about everything she’d heard to the school at large. She’d absorb what Katie told her, she’d give some advice, and then in a couple of months time, it’d have been all but forgotten.

So, hey, why not make it a little bit more memorable?

“That’s a very good question,” Katie muttered, leaning against the railings again. “Asked him it myself a couple of times when I’ve been in a bad mood. Probably not the best idea, but you know, if he’s not going to respect me, I’m not gonna respect him.”

She took another drag, feeling the anger that had flared up inside of her become clouded with smoke and vanishing again. She turned to look at Saffron, brushing some hair out of her eyes with her free hand.

“There’s two things I love in life, Saffron; boxing and girls. And… my dad doesn’t like that. Doesn’t like that I like either of those things. He’s never out and out said he disapproves of them, but he’s never been encouraging of me in those regards, either, y’know? Never comes to my boxing matches. Always seems to be busy whenever I need a lift to training. Always suggesting other hobbies I take up, or… asking me whether I’m still with my girlfriend, whenever I’ve had one. Little things that just…”

Katie sighed, and her face fell. Her eyes moved from looking at Saffron’s face to looking at her shoes.

“… Add up. Like I said, he’s never outright disapproved of who I am. It just feels like a matter of time.”
V7 BAYBEE

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Yeesh. So Katie's dad was that kind of guy. Always having to needle at things that he didn't understand. Or maybe he did understand and just didn't like it. Either way, the guy sounded like a real dick. Saffron had enough trouble dealing with people like that at school. She didn't want to imagine what it must be live with one. At least Saffron could just stay home when she didn't want to deal with people whose opinions weren't worth her time, but it sounded like Katie didn't really have that option.

Damn, that must really suck. She really had to sympathize, but she didn't feel like there was much that she could actually do. It wasn't like she could tell Katie to just ditch her dad. Well, she could, but it probably wouldn't amount to much. For all the individuality and independence they had, they were still just high school students, still reliant on their parents. And sometimes those parents just happened to suck, sad to say. She didn't like it, but it wasn't like there was much that she could do about it right now.

"What a douche." She bluntly uttered her condolences.

Saffron couldn't just leave Katie without trying to do something, though. She already felt like she was caught up in the fold, and it wouldn't feel right to not offer any help at all. Even if she couldn't really do anything substantial, she could still try to offer comfort. She shifted a little closer to Katie while the boxer was busy looking at the ground, and she softened her voice.

"Hey, you gonna be all right? I can stick around and talk if you need it."
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Katie waved her hand at Saffron dismissively, looking back up, but across the water again, not at the other girl. She shook her head, trying to focus on the plume of smoke coming from the end of her cigarette.

"Nah, don't worry 'bout it," Katie muttered. "I've gone through this before, I'll be fine."

Even as the words slipped out of her mouth, she knew that it was all lies. Sure, she'd gone through this all before. And now she was perpetually on the brink of an angry meltdown, unless she had a stick of nicotine to calm herself down. Katie was no therapist, but that didn't sound 'fine' to her.

The little orange hue at the end of her cigarette burned on, and Katie's shoulders felt very heavy all of a sudden. She blinked, then a couple more times. Smoke had gotten in her eyes. Must have gotten to her heart, too, cause it felt all twisted inside of her chest.

Slowly, she took the cigarette from her mouth, stubbing it out on the railing. Maybe it was best to kick the habit for today. Maybe she should be focusing on something else instead.

"But, ah..."

Katie turned to look at Saffron, trying to force a smile onto her face.

"Maybe you can stick around and tell me about your day. If you wanna, y'know."
V7 BAYBEE

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Saffron watched Katie's reactions as she tried to act like whatever was going on wasn't bothering her, and the way her shoulders fell before she extinguished the loyal cigarette that had seen her through most of the conversation thus far seemed to be a pretty strong indicator that it was just a front.

She didn't get a whole lot of time to continue speculating before Katie moved to change the subject though, asking her how her day had been. Was she really curious, or was she just trying to shift attention away from herself and her uncomfortable subjects? But could Saffron really question her without risking shutting down the conversation entirely? She knew that Katie had something of a temper, so pushing he subject beyond what she was comfortable with probably wouldn't be the best course of action.

So she was going to be patient and play the long game. Just go along with the flow of the conversation and see where she can take it from there.

"I had dance practice today." She detailed. "I've got a recital in a couple of weeks, so I need to set myself up for a perfect performance." She added another note with a half-shrug. "And, you know, just staying sharp in general."
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It was warm on the bridge, and Katie was suddenly very glad she was wearing her favourite sleeveless hoody today. She’d blocked out most of her senses up until now, but with a storm on the horizon and the humidity rising, she was suddenly acutely aware of it. Normally, it’d be incredibly uncomfortable – even now, she could sense the phantom feeling of sweat dripping down the back of her neck and calves from working out in weather like this – but right now, she kinda appreciated it.

Well, that wasn’t entirely accurate. It wasn’t the humidity she appreciated. It was the fact she noticed it, the fact she wasn’t blocking it out. Now that she had chucked the cigarette, she was just… noticing things. She was beginning to feel the rising humidity, hear the low cooing of the pigeons roosting underneath the footbridge. She could focus more on Saffon now. She was pretty. She had a kinda fucked up left hand, although she hid it well.

There was a reason Katie smoked to calm herself down. It was so she could block out that bubble of anger that grew in her head and stop it from engulfing her entire body, and if she blocked everything else out in the process, so be it. This didn’t mean she was going to stop using it as her coping strategy. But maybe for now, she’d like to feel and hear things.

“Mmm.”

Katie nodded slowly as Saffron spoke, making a small noise of acknowledgement. Of course Saffron had been dancing. It was to her what boxing was to Katie, after all. She’d never been interested in pursuing it; she probably had the dexterity and the flexibility for it, but if drunkenly stumbling around to ‘Mr. Brightside’ had taught her anything, it was that she had a severe case of Two Left Feet. Her dad would probably have wanted her to become a dancer. Something much more feminine and suitable for a girl, in his mind. Even if she fell flat on her face every single practice.

“What are you practicing?” Katie asked. “Anything I’d have ever heard of?”

Katie was silent for a second, before adding another question.

“You confident you’ll do good?”
V7 BAYBEE

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"It's a contemporary piece. We get to choose our own choreography and music." Saffron revealed the details while gesturing with her good hand. "I went with a piece called New Beginnings. I had to choose it early so I'd have the time to make a routine that fit it perfectly. And yeah, with all the work I'm putting into this, I hope it turns out well. Placing high in this could be huge."

Saffron looked at her shoes. Was it her turn to start spilling? It seemed fair enough, especially with Katie dropping so much information to her already. The topics they were divulging details about were almost entirely different, and she kind of doubted that her stuff was as serious as what Katie was dealing with. But in the interests of keeping the conversation going, she pressed forward.

"There's a studio in town that I want to work with, and I think that acing this routine might get me noticed. You now, help me pay for college and stuff."

An idea popped into her head. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone, safely nestled in its blue protective case, perfectly matching the cloudy sky that made up the screen's background.

"Hey, I have my song saved on my phone. I can play it for you if you want. Might help you see if you've heard it before."
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Katie nodded and gave her best attempt at a smile as Saffron continued talking about her dance recital. Even this simple discussion of it was mostly going over Katie’s head, partially because, if she was being totally honest, she didn’t really care about the subject at hand. She was glad Saffron enjoyed it, and it wasn’t like she objected to people dancing or anything stupid like that. Katie just had no inclination to dance herself. She could barely will herself to do the stuff she enjoyed, for Christ’s sake, how was she supposed to muster up enthusiasm for something she had basically no knowledge of?

She could pretend, though. That wasn’t hard. It was common freaking courtesy. If someone was telling you about something they loved, you didn’t start yawning or checking your phone or whatever. Someone did that to Katie, they’d find themselves with her hand print in red on their cheek.

Katie let out a low chuckle, unzipping her hoody as Saffron mentioned the ever-dreaded college fees. The scourge of graduating high-schoolers across the country. God, was she glad she didn’t have to worry about that anymore.

“Man, I can relate to that,” Katie muttered, mustering up a smile as she looked at Saffron’s phone case. It was cute, a nice, pleasant, relaxing blue. Katie had never bothered to put a case on her phone, mostly cause, despite falling out of her pocket plenty of times whilst jogging, it had never smashed yet.

Yeah she was coasting on hopes and prayers, and she knew it, but what was her dad gonna do if she did break it? Hate her more?

“Well, could relate to that,” Katie continued. “I’m planning on taking up boxing full time after graduation, so that obviously comes with its own complications, but college is nothing more than a distant memory for me now.”

Well, it would be, if her dad didn’t try and push her back towards it every single fucking day. Katie sighed, shook her head, and blew air out of the side of her mouth, sending a few strands of hair dancing.

“Anyway, yeah, that’d be cool. Let’s hear your song. My music tastes aren’t exactly, like, contemporary, but I wanna hear what you’re dancing to.”
V7 BAYBEE

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Saffron didn't know that Katie had already written off college. She wasn't the judging type, but that still gave her a surprise. Her own parents were incredibly lax in most departments, but they still talked about how college would be a big step for her in her life, and that combined with research she had done on the subject helped her decide that she wanted to go. After all, gathering new skills couldn't hurt, right?

But it wasn't her place to criticize what Katie was doing with her life. It sounded like she already got enough of that at home. And besides, Katie had her dream, and she was following it. She couldn't really find fault with that. What Katie was doing with boxing was pretty much the same thing that Saffron was doing with dancing. It was a good goal, trying to push herself into her field of choice. So really, Saffron could hold nothing but wishes of good fortune for her.

"That's pretty cool." She replied with a playful grin. "Maybe one day I'll have to swing by the gym to see you in action."

She used her thumb to scroll through the menus of her phone until she reached her music. She searched for the song that she would use for her performance and played it, turning up the volume a bit and raising it up so that the taller girl could her it better. At the song's conclusion, she adjusted the setting back to normal and looked to Katie to see hr reaction.

"So what do you think?"
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Y’know, the song sounded legitimately cool. Katie was actually kinda getting some inspiration for her own music from it; maybe branching out and changing her style a little bit would do her motivation some good. And she could totally see Saffron dancing to it, clear as day. Katie’s style of dancing was more the ‘get drunk at a party and start bouncing around to whatever garbage was being played on Spotify’, but this was the sort of music you danced to in order to win awards and hearts and accolades the world over.

She was finding it a little difficult to concentrate on that, however.

Maybe she was just reading too much into things, but man, it had really felt like Saffron had been… flirting with her there. Had she been flirting? It sure felt like flirting. Again, Katie only had her own version of flirting to go off of, and that was the loosest interpretation of the term possible. Every single last drop of Katie’s composure filtered out of her whenever she tried to talk to a girl she liked, and she was rendered nothing more than a gibbering, stuttering wreck.

Yeah, truth be told, Katie was kinda oblivious when it came to actual flirting, thanks to this. But this sure felt like flirting.

She did her best to keep her composure as she flashed a smile at Saffron, and she didn’t even realise how natural it felt as she did so.

“That sounds cool, yeah,” Katie said. “I’m not much of a music critic or anything. But it sounds like a good dance piece to me. Is your recital, like, open for anyone to watch? I’d like to see you dancing now I’ve heard that.”

Her grin grew wider as she spoke. There were still a couple of orange embers, trying desperately to stay alive around her feet, but as far as Katie was concerned they were nothing but a distant memory right now.

“Maybe we can trade. I get to watch you dance, you get to watch me work out.”
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