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  1. Past hour
  2. The observations and wisdom in the readers comments adds enormously to exposition of these stoic and complex characters. Fascinating reading.
  3. And back to the mighty, morphin raptor. Let's go Coconuts for Chocolate Pudding today. To the Beauticians, give them some Parchment.
  4. AusGlitterati

    Revelation

    Thanks for the comments guys! ❤️ Motives revealed, Edith still abandoned her own kid in a psych ward with absolutely no support. An explanation is not an excuse! Have terrific days both of you!
  5. Ivor Slipper

    Revelation

    So perhaps Edith is not so bad after all? Hmm....I'll take a rain check on that for now.
  6. Today
  7. " It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." Warren Buffet
  8. Nephylim

    Chapter 45

    That was the plan
  9. Nephylim

    Chapter 46

    The news broke on the same day as Johnathan’s visit and the craziness started straight away. The press turned up en masse and set up camp outside. No one could move in or out of the house without being harassed and yelled at. The rumours started shortly afterwards and some of the things cropping up on social media were downright sick. Worst of all, despite Johnathan’s promise to keep as many secrets as he could, the full story about the books was leaked, along with some actual excerpts. Somehow, the press was able to obtain photographs of the dungeon, and there was rampant speculation about the identities of some of the murdered boys. Even though David hadn’t named any of the boys, he had described them, sometimes in great detail. How the press managed to get hold of those descriptions no one could say, but they used them to produce photographs of David with various young men who could fit the bill. This was absolutely devastating, especially to Amara, who had spent time with some of the boys at David’s parties, although he didn’t know any of them as more than passing acquaintances or one-time bed mates. At the bottom of the barrel, though, were the things that really hurt, that ate away at the twins and everyone who knew and loved them, were the rumours and speculation about them personally, sometimes including Jay. There were numerous stories about what David might have, or could have done to one, both or all three. High up on the list was the old chestnut of twins’ relationship with each other, and with Jay. Sometimes graphic stories and comments popped up all over social media and although the general consensus was still overwhelmingly supportive and sympathetic, it was the sick minority that really drove knives into the boys’ hearts and thereby into Drew’s. Both Aria and Amara stopped looking at social media. Aria never set foot in his studio and Amara wouldn’t speak to Alexis or show any interest in making plans for his future. Alexis was forced to cancel all prior engagements for the foreseeable future. He wasn’t happy, but he understood. Everyone understood, but it was frustrating and heartbreaking. Of them all, Jay was the only one who really bounced back. As soon as they realised their fan base remained loyal and supportive they stopped caring about any of the rest and was actually able to laugh at the more outrageous comments, no matter how dark they were. Without Jay’s renewed optimism and enthusiasm Drew didn’t know how he would have managed. Then Alicia got a call from Lady Jane that had them all running around like headless chickens. The instructions had been simple. Pack light, but enough for two weeks, and be ready at five when the limo arrives to pick you up. Even when Aria called his grandmother, he could get no further information. For the first time since their birthday party, the twins were truly excited, rushing around, throwing things into suitcases and chattering non-stop with Jay about where they might be going. Amara ran out of energy quickly and fell asleep on the sofa, but Aria and Jay were like hamsters on steroids, exhausting Drew, but in such a good way he almost felt drunk from the sheer joy of watching them. Although Drew’s mother had been included in the instructions, as had Ceriann and Jay, she decided it was a good opportunity for her to return home, so when the limo arrived they all said a tearful goodbye. “But why won’t you come?” Aria asked, pouting. “You’re our mother now, so why won’t you come take care of us?” She laughed and hugged him. “I’ll always be your mother no matter where I am or where you go, but you’re big boys now, all four of you.” She flashed her brilliant smile at Jay over Aria’s head. “You have your life to live and I have mine. I have things to do. Christmas is coming up fast and I’ve a lot to get sorted before then.” “Will you come for Christmas?” Amara asked immediately. “Grandmother asked us to go to the Hall but it’s too soon. We want to have it here, so please come.” She shook her head firmly. “I love you all to death, but I have other family to depend on me too, and we have standing plans.” “Bring them all,” Aria said, his eyes shining. “We can have a big family Christmas. I’ve always wanted one of those.” “I’ll tell you what, why don’t you all come to me. You can meet Sioned and the kids and you can start learning some of our little family traditions. It’ll be a tight squeeze, but Ceriann can sleep in the van and I’ll go next door. It’s only to sleep, isn’t it?” “Yes,” both Aria and Amara said together. “I…” Amara took a shaky breath, biting his lip. “I’d really like that.” “We can tell the press were going to Grandmother’s,” Aria said. “They’ll believe it and besides there’ll be lots of exciting things going on then and they won’t care about us anymore because we won’t be going to boring parties but hanging Christmas trimmings on sheep.” Everyone cracked up at that. “Come on, you idiot,” Jay said and tugged Aria away. They planted a quick kiss to Drew’s mother’s cheek. “Thank you,” they whispered. “Nothing to thank me for, cariad. Remember all those talks we had, now.” She reached up and brushed rainbow hair behind Jay’s ear. “Don’t be letting what ignorant people have to say bring you down. You are not your past, you are your present and your future. You’re my…” She paused for a moment. “You’re my Jay, and you’re amazing. I’ll see you Christmas, yes?” “Nothing could stop me,” Jay choked and turned away quickly, dragging Aria to the limo. Amara kissed Mrs. Chance too. She didn’t hug him but stood quietly for him to hug her. “I’ll miss you.” “I’ll miss you too, bach. It won’t be for long. I’ll see you Christmas.” “You will. We’ll be there, I promise.” She drew back and gazed into his face. “You’re tired, bach, and not well. Things are hard when you’re ill. Life don’t make sense and everything is blown out of proportion. Give it time. Everything will turn our right in the end, see if it don’t. And no matter what happens, we’re here for you. All of us. And you haven’t even met our Sioned and her kids yet. You’ll like them, and they’ll love you. You’ve got a new family now, and there’s aunts and uncles and cousins, and even a grandparent or two to look forward to.” Amara blinked. “That sounds like a lot.” “Wait till you come a proper family gathering. That’s usually a wedding or a funeral, mind you. But don’t worry, we won’t throw them all at you at once. One little bit at a time. Alright?” Amara smiled. “Alright.” “You take care of my Drew now. Make sure he doesn’t get himself into any mischief.” Amara snorted. “I can’t promise that.” She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Oh well, I’ll just have to be hoping then.” Drew hugged his mother and gave her a quick kiss. “I’ll keep you informed,” he said and melted under the smile she gave him. Then he hurried to help Amara into the car. There was a police block at the end of the road, but even so, press had escaped and were running at them. Drew had barely closed the door before the first reporters were banging on it. It wasn’t like it had been in Wales, though. This driver knew what he was doing and there were police on hand to help them get through. The press would follow them, Drew knew that, but he didn’t care because here in the safe body of the beast of a limo it was only him and some of the people he cared most about in the world. “What’s the smile for,” Jay asked. “What?” “You look like the cat that got the cream,” Jay said, grinning at him. A lock of hair had fallen over their face and was the brightest thing in the car. “Well, aren’t I?” he said, stretching his arms across the back of the seat and dropping them over the shoulders of the twins, who leaned in to him with contented sighs. Jay laughed. “Now isn’t that a picture I could sell for thousands.” “Really?” Ceriann piped up. “Thousands? Where’s my phone?” “Thought you said I’d crack the lens if you took one of me?” Drew said lazily, sinking back into the soft leather. “That was when I couldn’t make money out of it,” she said, grinning at him. “Hey, don’t judge. The Painted Lady needs new wheels and a proper overhaul before we head off into the setting sun.” “The Painted Lady?” Jay asked. “The tin shed she euphemistically refers to as a “van”.” “I like that,” Jay said. “The Painted Lady. Yes, it suits her. Hm.” They thought for a moment, a crease between their brows. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll help you get the repairs done, if you’ll take me somewhere before you go abroad.” Ceriann grinned. “I knew you were after my body.” Jay snorted. “In your dreams. I told you, you’re not my type.” “Yeah, yeah, type-shmipe, but I can see the twinkle in your eye.” She winked. Thankfully, Jay was getting used to her now and they laughed out loud. “Whatever. So, will you?” “Will I let you have your wicked way with me? Sure, but I might need some time to get it all going again. I’m not getting any younger, you know.” Jay snorted. “Right. Right. No, will you take me somewhere in The Painted Lady?” “Sure. Where do you want to go?” “I don’t care. Just somewhere. Away. To the sea, maybe. Or Scotland. Somewhere away from the press and all the…” They waved a vague hand. “This.” “For sure, love. I’m not going until February. Plenty of time. Not sure how you’re going to find the seaside in winter, though. And Scotland will be bloody freezing.” “I don’t care. I can put on lots of clothes. Those big sweaters with necks up to your ears and woolly hats.” “You’ll have to wear a kilt in Scotland,” Aria piped up. “It’s the law.” “Only at weddings and funerals,” Ceriann said smoothly. “Just as well.” Jay grinned and stretched out long legs encased in the tightest black jeans Drew had ever seen. “I don’t think Scotland’s ready for my legs.” Everyone laughed and for a moment the oppressive silence that seemed to have seeped into everyone over the last few days, lifted. The twins fell asleep quickly, snuggled in to Drew’s side, and while Jay and Ceriann rifled the fridge it didn’t take them long to follow. Drew, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep. No matter how hard he tried, his mind kept going over and over the past few weeks, all the things he’d done wrong, all the ways in which the twins could have and had been hurt by his lack of focus. The trouble was, he couldn’t see that getting much better anytime soon. The twins were distracting—there was no other word for it—in so many ways. He sighed, wondering if he’d ever sleep again. They drove for a good two hours. Sometimes, the car rocked and swerved, and Drew knew it was because of the press following them. He’d seen and heard enough to know that accidents happened, far more often than they should. The paparazzi were not averse to running cars off the road if they were chasing a particularly important story, and he had a feeling this one was. The frenzy that started when the story broke had not abated one bit and it was slowly wearing his boys down. He prayed that wherever they were going it would give them all an opportunity to relax. At first, he’d thought they were going to Lady Jane’s but it was obvious they weren’t. When the road began to get really rough, and the car literally bounced, everyone woke, Amara with a whimper and groan. Drew cradled him gently as he came awake in pain. “What’s happening?” Aria demanded. “Where are we?” “I have no idea. I haven’t looked out of the window for quite a while. You were all asleep so I darkened them.” “We were asleep? Didn’t you sleep too?” Aria frowned. “You haven’t slept properly in ages. You twist around all night, I know you do, because I listen. That’s why you won’t sleep with us.” “I don’t sleep with you because Amara couldn’t stand having both of us in bed with him. Not while he’s healing.” “It’s true,” Amara agreed, “but only because you move around so much.” The words struck Drew right where it hurt and the twins must have seen it, because, as if as one, they hugged him. “I won’t mind when I’m better,” Amara assured him. “And we’re going to get a bigger bed.” “We don’t fit in any of ours.” “Not the three of us.” “We want a big round one.” “Just because we liked it when we were looking.” “You’ve been looking for a new bed?” Drew asked in surprise. “Of course we have.” Aria looked at him as if he’d gone mad. “Do you think we were going to all sleep in one of the ones we have. There’s barely room for the two of us, let alone you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re bigger than the both of us together.” “I am not.” Even while he defended himself, Drew felt the warmth begin deep inside. It was true that he’d kept away, and it was mostly because of Amara’s injuries, but it was also a deep-seated insecurity. Would the twins want him to sleep with them, or only join Amara when they were doing things Aria wasn’t comfortable with? They still hadn’t had “the talk”. The boys kept putting it off and anyone he spoke to about it told him it wasn’t necessary and things would work themselves out. He’d never really believed that. “We’re going to keep the old beds,” Amara said seriously, “because there will be times when one of us, or all of us will want space.” “Especially me,” Aria piped in. “I don’t want to sleep in the same bed when you’re having sex, even after you’ve finished, because it will smell bad, and besides Mara liked to cuddle and go to sleep and I don’t want to disturb him. It’s okay, Drew.” He hurried on when Drew was about to interrupt. “You don’t have to stress over that because I am really okay about not sleeping with you some…most of the time. Sometimes we can all sleep together though, just to cuddle. Then, we need a big bed.” Drew tightened his arm around Aria. “It won’t be most of the time. Don’t forget, Amara will be on tour a lot and when he’s away we’ll sleep together every night.” Aria perked up at that, but Amara didn’t and his eyes were shadowed even when he smiled. Drew wondered what that was about, but didn’t say anything. He knew Amara well enough to know that when he was ready to talk about what was on his mind, he would. The car came to a halt and they heard the driver’s door open and close. Voices called back and forth for a few moments, then the driver opened the door, grinning. “Your chariot awaits,” he said cryptically. Ceriann, Jay and Aria bounced out of the car and Drew heard exclamations of excitement as he helped Amara more slowly out onto what he was surprised to find was grass, newly mown by the smell of it. Drew inhaled deeply feeling nostalgic for a moment. Well, that explained the bouncing car. Coming from the dim interior of the limo, it was almost painfully bright. Drew shaded his eyes and looked around. He was shocked to find himself in a field, apparently in the middle of nowhere. There was no sign of press anywhere. In fact, there were very few people at all. Few buildings too. In fact, there was what appeared to be a fancy shed, a small cabin and— “A plane,” Aria cried excitedly, bouncing up and down. “We’re going on a plane.” Two men hurried over to the car and loaded the luggage on a trolley while they all made their way across the field to where a smiling man and woman in uniform stood next to a brilliant white plane that sparked and sparkled in the sunshine. Drew’s stomach flipped. Of course, he’d flown in private planes before—military ones, and he’d never liked it or got used to it. He hated flying, especially in planes as small as this. It seemed barely bigger than a bus. Oh God, a bus with wings. Amara tightened his arm around him, and it was only then he realized he’d stopped. His face or body language must have been betraying his inner turmoil. “It’s alright, Drew,” Amara said. “I’ve flown all over the world in all kinds of planes, and I’m still here. It won’t be as bumpy as Ceriann’s bus.” “Ceriann’s bus doesn’t usually bump around above the clouds.” Amara snorted. “Neither will we. We probably won’t go high enough at all. It depends where we’re going though.” “Great.” “Don’t worry, we’ll look after you. It’s a shame we weren’t alone so I could give you something to take your mind off it.” Drew’s eyes widened and he stared at Amara, who grinned and shrugged. “With all that talk of sex and snuggling I’m feeling quite…” He chuckled. “Randy.” Drew almost choked. “Um…yeah…maybe not today.” “One day, though. Alexis has his own plane and pilot. We use them a lot when we’re working or touring. He’ll let us use them. We can go away. Just the two of us. Only for a few days, or Aria will feel left out. Maybe he can join us after a couple of days. He’ll know why and he’ll tease us, but he won’t mind.” “Oh God, Mara, you’re killing me.” “Not yet.” Amara’s grin widened and Drew realized he wasn’t stressing out so much anymore. He bent his head to kiss Amara gently. “Thank you,” he murmured. “Will you two please come on?” Aria came running across the field. “You can kiss later. If you want to have sex on the plane you’ll have to wait longer and fly around on your own. Right now I want to get on and see what it’s like inside. It looks even fancier than Alexis’ and the crew are all dressed up and smiley.” “Aria has spoken,” Amara said, beaming up at Drew. “Best not keep him waiting. He’s so annoying when you do that.” “Hey, I am not annoying. Well maybe I can be a bit annoying, but I’m excited, so humour me.” Aria grabbed Drew’s hand and began to tow him across the field. Somehow Amara managed to keep up.
  10. Kkh

    Chapter 1

    Okay but Raven kissing him on his neck while leaving is so cute 😭
  11. droughtquake

    Singapore Swelter

    Hey @Bard Simpson – clever name! ;–)
  12. Bard Simpson

    Singapore Swelter

    I feel sure that this could well form the basis of a brilliant romantic comedy. I really hope it turns out as good as I'm expecting.
  13. drpaladin

    Twin Stars

    You never know who you're liable to run across when putting blind proposals out there.
  14. chris191070

    Chapter 1

    That’s one way for Raven to get rid of his boredom, not sure how many rimes Julian would put up with his meetings being interrupted.
  15. Wesley8890

    Revelation

    She's still a b¡+€# in my opinion but at least we can see Edith's motives more. As for dad I'd like for him to take a swift kick in the huevos!
  16. chris191070

    Chapter 4

    Tyler and Drakes date went well.
  17. tippysmom

    Chapter 8

    When Colton changed when they were watching Zeke through the window,Quint questioned he can change outside the moon? Then Travis changed too.Since when can Travis change outside the moon?This is probably the 5th time reading and I just noticed this.
  18. AusGlitterati

    Revelation

    He woke up the morning after cuddling Vladimir to sleep on the couch to Sue's gentle rapping on his bedroom door, and he stretched in his covers like a cat. "Good morning, young man. You're sleeping late these days," she remarked as she brought herself inside. "How are you feeling this morning?" "How am I s'posed to answer that? I don't even know what universe I'm in. How's Vladimad--i...mir?" His words were one long slur. She laughed. "Vladimadimir is up and about. You're the only lazybones I have to deal with today. Are you ready to get up, or do you need some more time to wake up first?" It must have been ten minutes to eight if Sue was waking him up for breakfast. No rule said he had to get up. He could even have breakfast in his bed if he wanted. But the promise of Vladimir got Tyson out of bed and almost out his door before Sue caught him by the arm. "Not so fast! You'll need to put on some clothes before you head out there! And you best hop in that shower!" She tutted and closed the door on her way out. Tyson realised he was only in his underwear and turned pink. He could shower after breakfast, he decided. He pulled on the first top and bottoms he found - a purple tee and some faded blue jeans. Before he darted outside, he snatched up the chocolate frogs he'd been hoarding from his psychiatrist. When he got to the dining hall, however, he did not see Vladimir anywhere. Damn. "Tyson!" It wasn't the Russian boy, but Charlie wasn't a bad alternative. He hadn't seen the youngster in a while, as he'd spent most of his time shut in his room so he wouldn't be tempted to smother Vladimir, and Charlie looked so glad to see him. He was a right mess, though. Grubby, with dirt and old remnants of food on his shirt and face. His pillowslip was coloured with many different stains, and when Tyson approached, he noticed that the boy smelled unpleasant. Who knew when he last showered or washed anything? Or changed his pyjamas or that horrible pillowslip? It made Tyson angry. "C-man, good to see you!" Tyson didn't sit down with him. The thought turned his stomach. "How've you been?" "Where were you?" Charlie whined, tightly squeezing his pillow to his chest and resting his head on the end, looking as though he might go to sleep then and there. "I haven't been feeling well. Been crook, so I've been in my room. Have you been okay, though?" Charlie nodded idly, chewing on three of his fingers as he waited for Jae to serve up his cereal. Tyson already knew what would happen for Charlie today. Once every hour or so, someone would make sure he wasn't dead, and he would show up to the education unit only to have Petra or Dale pretend he wasn't there. He wouldn't have any therapy or support or recovery plans. Nobody even wanted to try. Public mental health had a stretched budget as it was, leaving the ward understaffed and underfunded, so the administration didn't waste resources on the patients they deemed lost causes. Charlie saw a doctor a few minutes a week if he bothered to show up at all. That loud bitch Chantal was warehoused in the HDU until she was transferred to a juvenile detention centre. Until Cynthia changed things for him, Vladimir was locked in seclusion, drugged and strapped to a bed when he lapsed into delusional episodes. It was fucked! It wasn't good enough! And it was only going to get worse! "Hey C-man, do you know where Vlad is? Have you seen him?" "Vad?" He never could pronounce it correctly. "Outside." He pointed towards the screen doors. He should have known already. Vladimir loved the pretty little courtyard out the back. He'd been here longer than anyone, even Charlie, and Tyson knew he was getting desperate for his freedom. It was a heartbreaking irony that his extended stay in the hospital, more than two months, was the reason Cynthia was hesitant to discharge him. She granted him three hours of escorted leave twice a week, hoping to gradually work towards full days, then overnights and finally move him to an outpatient program. Vladimir never complained, though. He wasn't happy, but he was determined to get as much out of Cynthia as he possibly could. Tyson admired that, and it only renewed his resolve to do the same. When he stepped outside, he saw Vladimir lying down on the swinging sofa, slowly rocking himself with his foot on the grass. "Hey," Tyson approached gingerly, not sure where they stood at the moment. "How are you this morning?" "Dead. I got more antipsychs this morning and they're kicking my butt," Vladimir replied quietly, sparkling azure eyes half-lidded and looking to the overcast sky. "But you're okay, right?" Vladimir still wouldn't look at him, but at least he was talking now. "I don't know. I was really happy last night. I know it wasn't real, but I was still happy. Now I'm here, and I'm tired and miserable, and my brain's all fucked." He was happy because he thought his old boyfriend was still alive, Tyson thought miserably. He thought I was Alexey. He doesn't like me because of who I am. He likes me because he's psychotic and gets me confused with his ex. Fuck. "Thanks for staying with me last night, though," Vladimir sat up and crossed his legs. It was a cute and effeminate habit of his. "Do you want to sit?" "I don't know," Tyson's feelings were incredibly hurt by the events of the night before and what they might mean for the two of them. "Oh... I'm sorry. I screwed things up, didn't I?" Vladimir seemed to wilt in front of his very eyes, as though someone pricked him with a pin and his soul began to leak out of him. "I should have just left you alone that day. I should have kept my mouth shut." "What?" Tyson screwed up his face. That wasn't what he was expecting! "When we came back to surprise you with lunch. It was my idea, but it was totally stupid. And when you were obviously upset, I... was an idiot. You needed space, and I didn't give it to you. Then I said... what I said." Tyson did sit down now. "What? That was my fault! I got scared and insecure and I took it out on you, and that was a dick move. I should be sorry, not you! And what I said... that was horrible." "Don't worry about it. I know you didn't mean it." Vladimir put his arm around his friend and hugged him close. It felt so good! To be back in the pretty boy's arms again after not even talking to him for days. The familiar scent of his deodorant and the way Vladimir traced his arm with his long fingers. Tyson appreciated the colour contrast of their hands. He had the palest alabaster skin the Asian boy had ever seen, and though Tyson was half-Caucasian, his skin was every bit as dark as his mother's. Most of the time, he wished it was the other way - that he was white like his father. Perhaps Chase wouldn't have disliked him so much. Maybe Edith wouldn't have projected her self-hatred and shame of her own heritage on him if he didn't look just like her. He'd never been allowed to encompass that part of his identity; instead, it had to be whitewashed so his father could bear to look at him. But Vladimir told him a while ago that he liked him the way he was, and Masha and Vasily both took an active interest in his ancestry and culture, the way they encompassed their own. It went a long way to making Tyson feel comfortable in his dark brown skin. "Are we okay now?" Vladimir asked him as the clouds parted above them and the sunlight briefly peeked through. "I never wanted us to be not okay! But there's something we need to talk about, I think, because it's starting to drive me crazy," Tyson pulled out of the embrace, suddenly cold when the clouds shrouded the sun once more. "What's that?" Vladimir, again, seemed to shrink. He held himself with his arms and looked towards the big wall that separated the courtyard from that of the high-dependency unit. "I want you to tell me all about Alexey," Tyson decided that it was necessary. He needed to know certain truths that Vladimir had been hiding from him. "I don't want to talk about Alexey," Vladimir's voice cracked under the weight of his emotion, and Tyson felt his heart go into his stomach. "Not now, Vlady. Just whenever you're ready. You called me Alexey last night... and I know he wasn't just your friend. I just think I deserve to know what's going on because I have no idea," Tyson did have an idea, but he didn't want to breathe further life into it by speaking about it. "When you feel up to it, yeah?" "He's dead. Why does it matter?" "Because he comes to life when your brain tricks you," Tyson admitted, suddenly wishing he didn't bring it up as Vladimir began sniffling. "Я влюбленa в тебя," he finally said. "What?" Vladimir, jaw quivering, looked over at him with his impossibly round eyes bulging out of their sockets. "What did you say?" "Я влюбленa в тебя," Tyson repeated, now insecure. It was a huge risk he was taking. "Am I saying that wrong?" "You're saying that you're in love with me. In Russian. Or am I still psychotic? Is it just wishful thinking? Hah," he laughed bitterly. "If Я влюбленa в тебя means I am in love with you, then yes. That's what I'm saying," Tyson's heart pounded against his ribcage and blood rushed to his cheeks, turning them a dark crimson. "You spoke Russian to me! Have you been learning? When?? You spoke it to me last night, didn't you? I thought I was just imagining things!" Vladimir's spirits had soared, which was both lucky and sweet! "Oh, well, it was going to be a surprise, but last night you weren't listening to me when I spoke English, so I spoke in Russian instead, and I dunno. You heard me. So I thought I'd try to do the same today," Tyson explained. "I started studying from a book Cynthia brought me. Are you impressed?" "Almost! Your pronunciation isn't perfect and you conjugated the verb in the female gender," the boy giggled, happily squeezing his legs. "Я влюбле в тебя is what you would say as a boy. Я влюблен в тебя too, by the way. I can't believe you'd do that for me!" "Oh!" Tyson had forgotten his small gift, and pulled the chocolate frogs from his pocket. "These are for you too." Vladimir seemed to melt, and before either of them could think about where they were and how to behave appropriately, Vladimir put a hand on the back of Tyson's head and brought their lips together. Tyson was a little surprised. They'd shared some brief pecks of affection, but never before had anyone kissed him like this. It was awkward, he thought. He had no idea how to do this! For more than a few seconds, Vladimir kissed him again and again and again. Tyson's blood went right from his face to another part of his body and he had to awkwardly shift his legs. Right as Vladimir's tongue began to taste his lips, Tyson was startled by a voice from the sliding doors that lead to the dining area. "Boys! Cut that out!" Sue lectured them as she walked briskly along the concrete path towards them. "None of that, thank you very much! If you can't control yourselves, then you can't be unsupervised." "I'm sorry, Sue. It was my fault." Vladimir spoke quickly, likely afraid that the younger boy might say something rude or antagonistic towards her. He was right. Tyson was incensed that she would ruin such a special moment and had opened his mouth to ask her why she was such a fucking cunt, but Vladimir cut him off. She was bringing a toasted ham and cheese sandwich out on a paper plate, which must have been Vladimir's, because he'd ordered the porridge. He was determined not to put on any more weight while he was here. "Careful, Vlad, it's right off the pan, so make sure you don't burn yourself," she warned him, before turning to a very peeved and scowling Tyson. "Your porridge is ready for you in the dining hall. Come along." "I want to have it out here." "You know I can't let that happen," she told him patiently, but firmly. Tyson had grown to like Sue for the most part in his time here, but in the present moment, he hated her guts. "Inside, please." "Why? I want to eat outside. I eat from a plastic bowl and a plastic spoon! Are you scared I'll gouge out my eyes or try to burn myself on that tepid glue you call oats?" It was so stupid! Vladimir, because he was only a medium risk patient, could eat his meals outside in the courtyard if he wished. Tyson wasn't allowed such a privilege with cutlery unless he was supervised at all times. His risk rating was still high, and Cynthia would not change it no matter how well he behaved because she used it as a safeguard. If Edith tried to snatch him away from the hospital with courts and lawyers, her success was much less likely if Tyson was officially an acute self-harm risk. He wasn't allowed to use the kitchen unless someone was there. They checked on him every fifteen minutes. Tyson was fed up with being treated like a toddler, and his patience was rapidly running out. Having breakfast outside with his friend might not have seemed like a big deal to Sue, but Tyson had so little to look forward to. He needed it. "My schedule is full enough as it is without your abuse, Tyson. You can spend the rest of the day outside if you like, but I can't be out here and in there at the same time. If you want your breakfast, you need to do it indoors." "Then toss it. I'm staying out here," Tyson folded his arms. "What bullshit." "If you want to skip your brekky then go ahead, but I don't appreciate your attitude. I don't make the rules, Tyson, but I have to follow them the same way you do," she shrugged and turned to leave. Unfortunately, seeing Charlie in such a state had shaken Tyson, had amplified his resentment of the nursing staff as a whole and her words were the catalyst to his eruption of rage. "Don't you dare talk about the rules to me!!" He roared at her, and she turned back around. "You're full of shit! You'll make sure I can't eat outside because I might find a way to hurt myself, but you're fine with letting Charlie's teeth rot out of his fucking skull!" He felt Vladimir put a calming hand on his arm, but he shrugged it off - but at least he stopped yelling. "Legit go hang yourself, Sue. I don't know how you actually sleep at night. Imagine becoming a nurse and then being totally fucking useless. He needs you, and you just can't be bothered. Fuck you." She opened her mouth to say something, but she changed her mind. Then she tried again, but cut herself off and just walked away. She looked upset, especially in the way she hurried back inside. He didn't feel bad at all if he hurt her feelings. He felt terrible because he was the only one who seemed to care at all about Charlie. He knew that the boy wanted to learn and he wanted friends. He went to the education unit every damn day, just to be ignored. He was so damn invisible he could stroll into the kitchen and fill his pillow with treats. He was so lonely that he begged Tyson not to leave him. Yet everyone who had the means left him to exist like a feral animal at the zoo. He was another reason Tyson had to take control. If nobody would help Charlie, then he would have to do it himself. "That was so mean, Tyson," Vladimir told him meekly from next to him. "I don't care," the boy answered stubbornly, folding his arms and legs. "You know how back in the HDU, I spent a lot of time in seclusion and restraints? Sue was one of the nurses who made all those complaints and got me transferred to the open ward. She cares a lot, you know. She probably already feels like shit about Charlie." Tyson sighed out loud when he quickly realised he did step out of line. He cursed himself. He was supposed to be taking control, and that included his emotions. It was going to be a long and hard journey, he supposed. Edith was so aggressive and loud when things displeased her. He'd learned directly from her to use his anger as a weapon. But now that he was beginning to know better with Cynthia's guidance, that was becoming an old excuse. He needed to be better than Edith. "I like Charlie, but he's really badly damaged, Tys. If Sue can't talk him into a shower, I don't think she's ready to drag him in there. Would you want to try? I sure wouldn't. His teeth are really gross, but they're sharp. That's why he was in the HDU with me in the first place. Someone tried to touch him and he freaked out," Vladimir added, taking a small bite from his sandwich. It smelled heavenly. "I'm sorry I cracked it. I guess I better apologise to her," he admitted, hating that he'd had such a magical moment with Vladimir only to spoil it by losing his temper moments after. "You got mad because you care about Charlie. I'm going to have a hard time holding that against you!" Vladimir brushed his cheek with the back of his fingers. "But yeah, please don't be mean to Sue. She's always been really great to me. If you want to pick on a nurse, pick Ron!" The boys shared a snicker. They both hated the old toad. "You want some, don't you?" "Of your sandwich? Nahhh," Tyson lied through his teeth, and not very convincingly because Vladimir began tearing it in half. "Well, since you're insisting... thanks!" When Tyson did return inside, the first thing he did was steel himself and seek out Sue. She wasn't in the nurse's station and Geraldine, a nurse Tyson did not like at all, sent him away. Knowing that she would have to check on him, Tyson decided to wait for her in his room. Sure enough, a nurse came by to check on him, but it wasn't Sue. It was the old toad himself, and Tyson fought his urge not to attack him as well. "What happened to Sue?" "She went home for the day. You've got me until afternoon handover," Ron replied coldly, and Tyson felt guilt and dread filling him up. "Can you tell her I'm sorry?" Tyson begged him, but Ron snorted. "Bit late for that, don't you think? Pull your head in and keep it that way, Belmont. Thanks to you I have nine patients to watch instead of five, so if you decide to act out on my watch, I'll put you in seclusion until Alice comes in. I don't have the time to deal with your attitude problem." Ron accented his threat by shutting the door behind him on his way out, and Tyson, knowing he was serious, wisely kept his mouth shut and wished he'd had the sense to keep his mouth shut earlier. Sue was gone? Did he really upset her so badly she couldn't stay at work? Damn it. Why was recovery such a bitch? Why did he have to ruin his progress by taking just as many steps back every damn time? Getting landed with Ron, who seemed to have a personal vendetta against Tyson and had a fetish for locking him in the quiet room, was probably karma for what he'd done. The shower didn't exactly help with the guilt. It was much harder to scrub that off than a thin layer of sweat and grime. It did make him feel better, though. As he washed himself, growing excited as he thought of his passionate kiss with the Russian boy earlier, his lustful thoughts were interrupted when he looked to the shower curtain. He'd been storing extra pills away in there. Was now the right time? With his relationship with Vladimir on the mend, Charlie's mistreatment at the hands of the administration and staff heavy on his mind and the threat of Ron the toad looming, it was probably best. Besides, he wasn't sure if it would even work, but he had to try. It was so risky. If someone caught him, then he would be sent to the high-dependency unit, or possibly even transferred to a more secure ward. He found one of his cutest shirts - a slim-fitting white Armani with trim, buttons and decorative zippers, all black. He put on a pair of black designer jeans since he did not have any of his good pants, and black socks into black lace-up shoes. He fixed his damp black curls in the mirror. He kept them short because they were naturally unruly when they grew out, and they were starting to get long enough to be permanently untidy! Most of the other children were in the education unit, but Tyson was not forced to go. Cynthia agreed he had long since excelled the standard of schoolwork in the daytime classes, and he was better able to spend his time reading the books that she brought in for him. That meant the phones would be free and nobody would be around to eavesdrop. "Where are you off to, Tyson?" Ron's deep voice interrupted him. Tyson's skin crawled. "I just want to call my nanny." Tyson wasn't sure why he lied. "Your nanny? I didn't know you had a nanny. She hasn't come to visit, has she?" Ron eyed him off suspiciously. He had a cup with some pills in his hand. "Meds." "Oh. Cheers," Tyson figured it easier to do what Ron said. Now was the worst time to get trapped in the quiet room. "Thanks." He gulped them down with some water without hesitation. "You know, you're awfully lucid and excitable for someone who takes this many benzos every day," Ron observed coldly, a suspicious look in his eyes. Tyson's lip twitched. "I'll be at the phones if you need me," Tyson ended the conversation as quickly and compliantly as he could. He hadn't actually used the phones to talk to his own family before. He'd tried Edith a few times, but when she saw the hospital's number, she didn't answer. He'd spoken to Masha a few times. He dialed one of the numbers he'd memorised - his sister's mobile phone. Kelly. He didn't imagine she would want to speak to him, nor did he particularly want to talk to her, but he needed her. The phone rang once, twice, six times, but eventually, she answered him. "Hello, Kelly Belmont-Lovett." "Kel. Hey. It's ahh, it's Tyson." "Huh? How did you get my number?" She didn't sound impressed to hear from him. "It's the same number you've always had," he said coolly, doing his best to keep his cool. "You haven't come to see me." "You didn't want me to come, so I didn't," she replied bluntly. "How is the nuthouse, anyway?" "Not like it looks on TV," Tyson remarked, his pride wounded by her word of choice. But then, he would have said the same word just as scornfully, had he not experienced it first-hand. "It's actually not so bad, but they treat you like a kid, and that pisses me off." "Everything always pisses you off. You were such a psycho," her words continued to hurt, but he swallowed it. He knew from experience that she wasn't a malicious person. This was just life as she knew it. The way their mother brought her up. "Yeah, I really was, but I'm a lot better now. I know you probably hate my guts, but can you please come and visit me?" "I don't know, Tys. I don't want to go to a mental asylum." "Please, Kel? I don't have anyone else. I haven't even heard from Mum in like, three weeks. She's just fucked off and left me here." "Yeah, but she still wants you home. She only stopped visiting because Chase made her," Kelly revealed, and Tyson blinked his eyes, stunned. "Mum doesn't hate me?" He asked, on the brink of tears. "I don't think so. She's not happy with you. Like, she's so mad. But she wants you home, Tys. She misses you. Chase reckons you're a lost cause, though. He complains that you're making him look bad with all this suicide shit, so he just wants to get rid of you. You know when you get home, whenever that is, he's sending you to Sri Lanka? Like, forever?" "Huh?" He wasn't sure what to think. "Yep. He's already told everyone that's where you are. He wants to keep you out of sight." "What do you think about that?" Tyson couldn't keep himself from whimpering. "Are you keen to get rid of me? Do you hate me too?" "Well... no. I thought you hated me, though. I never hated you. I don't know. I haven't really thought about it," Kelly admitted, not an ounce of emotion present in her voice. "Mum doesn't want you to go either. She tried to get you out before Chase changed his mind, but you know our dad." This changed everything. This whole time, Tyson had been sure that Edith abandoned him because she hated him. He was certain that she wanted him out of the hospital because she was concerned only with her reputation. Maybe there was still truth in both of those conclusions, but Kelly made it sound like their mother had only been a pawn since the beginning. She tried relentlessly to get him out and set him straight because Chase Lovett saw him as a liability and wanted him gone. Tyson's sniffles went right to sobs, and Kelly was awkwardly silent on the phone. "I'll come and see you," she eventually decided, and he sobbed a thank you to her. "I don't know why you're so upset? I thought you'd be happy. All you ever wanted was to get away from us." It's true. But now I have something worth staying for. Something worth living for. "Cheers, Kel. When's the soonest you can come in?" Tyson's cheeks were wet with tears, and though he tried, the dismay and hopelessness that he'd fought so hard to get on top of were creeping back into his heart. "Not tomorrow. I have some free time on Saturday. You owe me for this." "Thanks. See you then." Tyson took the phone away from his mouth, embarrassed by the scene he was making. He heard her utter a goodbye and hang up, then he put his head between his arms on the desk in front of him. It was confirmed. Out of sight, out of mind. He was just some inconvenience to Chase Lovett, some disobedient dog to be sent to the pound. And Edith? Even if Kelly was telling the truth and she did love her son, she was obviously too gutless to do anything about it. She'd been out of touch for weeks! As they often did when he was upset, though, Masha's comforting words came to him, playing through his head in her unique accent. Take control of the situation. Fuck, I'm trying to. I'm trying so hard.
  19. droughtquake

    Dyami

    I think A’Dore, Blethos, and Creid need to send Ambassadors to these various tribes to establish more formal relationships. If they had better contacts, the A/B/C alliance might have gotten warnings of the events that led to the attacks. It doesn’t sound like most of the tribes are hostile to A/B/C and diplomatic efforts could keep tensions from building to the point where there’s armed conflict. Some of those tribes might have medical technology (ie herbal treatments that could be useful to the others. Trade could improve the lives across the continent. We know that Native Americans traded goods across hundreds of miles long before Europeans arrived. There is even evidence of trade across the Bering Strait from China to Alaska. We like to think that trade is something that nobody did before the European ships arrived. ;–)
  20. Don’t know how I missed this story, but it’s really lovely. Thanks.
  21. quokka

    Oce Chapter 3

    Wait and see the little surprise coming up in Chapter 6...
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