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Jay: After a night spent in the gym, with the school building apparently still uninhabitable, it's no surprise that events are confused. For one, none of the students are woken at 6:30 as is usual; in fact, they aren't woken at all, though most come to when they hear the staff members and fellow students moving around. As everyone collects themselves, some immediately hunting for breakfast and others going to shower, but still more doing nothing but sitting around in their sleeping spots and bullshitting (they had, at least, been provided each with a gymnastics mat, a blanket, and a pillow), the morning stretches out with no schedule enforced.

Michael had been able to inch his own mat closer to Tim once the lights went out, and if any of the staff members noticed their covert cuddling, none of them bothered to wake them for a reprimand. But the raising noise level means that Mike's one of the first students to wake up, groaning a bit for the light coming through the high windows and initially curling closer to his roommate. Blinking his eyes open but not lifting his head, he searches the nearby area, spotting Jesse, Kellen, and Malachi snuggled closely together like they belong in a cutlery drawer, and most everyone else nearby still asleep, too. So he sees no reason to get up immediately, drawing back the hand tucked beneath Tim to rub his back lazily instead.


Jackie: After their run in with Leech and Maddox, Tim didn’t feel much like socializing, and odd feeling of guilt clenching his insides for whatever reason he doesn’t want to think about. So he spent the remainder of the night close to Mike’s side, intermittently checking the boy’s torso for forming bruises, and vaguely watching whatever movie the drama teacher puts on the projector until lights out. Kellen, Jesse, and Mal had all taken up spots not too far away from them, with Jade a little further down, and with the gymnasium almost totally dark, he’s able to curl up closer to Mike, sharing body heat and soft touches throughout the night.

It’s a little odd, how heavily he sleeps, but surely having his room mate’s scent so close to him aids in that; he doesn’t stir at all until Mike is shifting around, rubbing a lazy hand up and down Tim’s spine. For this, the younger boy makes a quiet noise, muffled into the arm he has his face crooked into, and he shifts a little bit closer blindly, not wanting to lift his head and draw any unwanted attention their way.


Jay: Feeling Tim start to stir, Mike smiles sleepily to himself and again grips at the other boy's side to draw him closer to himself, lifting his head and resting it against Tim's shoulder, humming quietly. There's enough noise around that it's obvious time to wake up has come, but he's not about to move from this spot until it's absolutely necessary.

In contrast, Kellen wakes with sudden alertness, popping up like a jack in the box from between Jesse and Mal, blinking rapidly, his currently sedate-blue eyes lined in very smudged black and his hair even more amok than usual. He first seeks for Leech - normally, he might not be so clingy, but Leech's mood lately has leant itself to over-protective behavior - but not finding him, he instead reaches up to rub both of his eyes, further smearing the eyeliner. "Fuuuck." Malachi, having been sleeping in front of Kellen, looks over his shoulder in confusion for all this movement and makes a quietly interrogative noise.


Jackie: When he’s tugged in a little closer, Tim makes another quiet noise, this one more like a soft moan, the familiarity of that touch warming him from the inside out. He shifts a little bit when he’s brought in closer and loops an arm around Mike’s hips softly, slowly starting to wake up but not trying excessively hard to do so. Tim snuffles his way out of the crook of his elbow and instead moves to press his face towards the general vicinity of Mike’s neck, a clear sign that he’s awake, but wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to snuggle.

Across from them, Jesse curls into himself a little more, waking up from the sounds of the other students and the cooler air that surrounds them. Since he doesn’t typically share body heat with Kellen, the chance to do so, especially in the cold gym, cannot be missed. So with absolutely no grace at all, Jesse rolls around like a burrito until he’s right up against his room mate, blanket tight around his own form, and pressing his cold nose into the boy’s ribcage.


Jay: Glancing down at the Malachi who seems to be demanding an answer, Kellen explains patiently: "I wanna cigarette." He switches his gaze to Jesse, snorting in amusement and dropping a hand to the top of his head, scratching lightly at it. Mal groans comfortably and rolls back to his previous position, murmuring half-awake. "It must be awful to be enslaved by chemicals..." Kellen glowers at the back of the kid's head, but doesn't answer verbally.

Mike cranes his head to the side some, allowing Tim to get close to his neck and, totally ignoring how they're out in the open, leans in to leave a line of kisses along the side of Tim's neck, catching the cord there between his teeth and tugging playfully at it before moving on. But then he spots Snider coming their way, and with a low groan of displeasure, leans away far enough to not be too suspicious, moving onto his back and stretching his arms over his head.


Jackie: Huddling up into Kellen’s warmth, Jesse squirms to get comfortable, finally finding a position that doesn’t have Kellen’s knee cap digging into his abdomen. Hearing the gentle back and forth between Mal and Kellen, Jesse slices in, singing voice muffled from his snuggling. “Ba ba bamp-ba, ba ba ba bamp-ba, I wanna cigarette…”

Humming when he feels those soft kisses, Tim tightens his hold on Mike and makes a silent vow to wake up every morning like this. It’s hard to rationalize what took him so long to get to this point. He turns his head to nuzzle into Michael’s, about to push into him more so he can plant his own affections to warm skin, but then the boy is rolling away, and Tim can only assume that they’re close to being spotted. So he too releases the boy, and instead slumps more uselessly against the mat, talking without opening his eyes. “Just as cold in here than it was in the dorm.”


Jay: Mike shivers a little, drawing his hands back beneath the blanket. "I think it's colder." He tries to sound displeased, but it's hard to do, given the way he woke up. Though he gave into everyone else's modesty (and the invasive cold) enough to actually wear pants to sleep in, that was all, and he reaches over to drag his backpack closer and dig a t-shirt out.

Glower changing to a look of amusement for Jesse's groggy singing, Kellen shifts around into a more comfortable sitting position, crossing his legs around each other. Suddenly, Leech's small calico is in his lap, putting her paws on his chest and bumping her nose against his chin with a prrrp! noise. "Catilla the Hun!" He wraps his hands around the kitten's tiny ribcage to lift her up and blows a raspberry on her furry stomach, looking around as he lowers her back to his lap, knowing that the arrival of the cat means that Leech has emerged, too. Shortly, he spots the parasite near the buffet of breakfast food, not too far away; he's trying to press a plate of food on a recalcitrant-looking Maddox.

Maddox has his arms crossed, pointedly looking away: "I'm not hungry." Leech growls, because it's way too early for this toddler bullshit. "Take it." "No." With an inward sigh, Leech's voice rises sharply with his irritation. "Maddox, ya have to eat."


Jackie: Tim makes a little agreeing noise, but lets the thought pass soon enough; dwelling on the subject will only make him feel colder, and there are no signs that the temperature will be changing any time soon. Finally lifting his head, he blinks groggily over at Michael, just in time to see the shirtless boy reaching for his back pack, and he sleepily smiles. A quick glance around them shows that Snider has passed on, so Tim reaches over to lightly scratch at the boy’s ribcage. Now more inclined to get up, Tim does so, slowly dragging himself up to a sitting position and, with the coast clear, sneaking a kiss to the top of Mike’s shoulder before he tugs a shirt on.

Keeping up with his updated Ramones song, Jesse eventually moves around until he’s on his back, head still cradled into his room mate’s lap. He blinks up at him, not looking all that tired or groggy, since it’s not like they were up late the night prior, and laughs for the way the little cat is welcomed. He reaches up to bat at her tail gently. “Catzilla.”

Although it’s still relatively quiet in the gym, aside from everyone’s fussing around, it’s not very easy to hear one another at distances - blame it on the high ceilings. So it’s only when Leech’s voice rises that Tim actually hears it, and he glances over at the two boys near the food. Maddox still has his leash on, and Leech is still near him, and Tim has to force himself to look away, ignore the feeling in his gut.


Jay: Having pulled his shirt on, Mike sits up, rolling his head from one side to the other to crack his neck and glancing at Tim. Following his roommate's line of sight, he watches the pair bicker for a moment before giving a degrading snort, watching Maddox, looking him over disdainfully but eventually dragging his eyes away. Reminded by the sight, he rubs at his jaw, which is lightly bruised from the brief scuffle last night, murmuring under his breath: "Fuckin' pussy." Ducking his head, he digs through his backpack for some socks.

Maddox finally deigns to turn to Leech, giving him a blank look. "Why?" Leech's own eyes narrow in return, but as usual, his irritation doesn't show on his face otherwise - only in his clipped tones, louder than normal. "Because it's necessary. To live. And I've forbidden you to die." Maddox tilts his head back, rolling his eyes at the ceiling like the most put-upon person ever, but he does snatch the plate from Leech's hands. Appeased, but still grouchy as ever in the morning, Leech walks away to collect some coffee (not eating, himself), forcing Maddox to trail along.

Kellen watches most of the verbal altercation with amusement, but the movements of Ness and Tim catch his eye, and he doesn't miss the way Tim looks uncomfortably away from his brother and said brother's current charity case. Kellen feels an unusual wave of discomfort, but forces the feeling to the back of his mind. Picking up the cat again, he transfers her to Jesse's lap before getting up without explanation, heading for the breakfast tables also.


Jackie: As Michael turns his focus onto Maddox and Leech, Tim drops his gaze, focusing instead on the material of Mike’s shirt, specifically the loose thread hanging from the hem. He’s only reminded of Mike’s injury, since that part of his face was turned away during their snuggling, when the boy curses, and of course Tim flicks his eyes up. One hand moves to Mike’s wrist, tugging the hand down so he can inspect the bruise, and lowering his voice so that it doesn’t carry. “Cheap shot.” Because really, it was - Maddox just lunging at Mike with no reason whatsoever. Like a rabid dog protecting his home. Which, of course, sends really bad mental images into Tim’s brain.

Jesse, also looking over at Leech, only because Kellen is, watches the exchange with a confused look on his face, because who in their right mind refuses to eat? He accepts Cat onto his chest without any protest, since he really does enjoy the little fluffy thing, and calls out to Kellen, oblivious to anything other than breakfast. “Grab me some pancakes!”


Jay: Mike nods in agreement, the movement sharp, obviously annoyed by the memory. "That's all it was." Ignoring how Maddox previously kicked his ass pretty soundly, since biting was a total cheat. Shaking his head to himself, he tries to dispel the sudden dark mood that's descended on him, throwing just one more quick glance at the kid and his keeper. Shoving the blanket off, he pulls his socks on and then his shoes, because it's far too cold to lounge around even partially undressed. Looking to Tim, he quirks an eyebrow. "You know what time it is?"

It's debatable whether Kellen heard Jesse's request; he certainly gives no sign of it, shadowing Leech until the parasite steps away from the crowds near the food, then stepping closer to talk to him. Malachi, meanwhile, gives in to having woken up, rolling over onto his back and giving a wide yawn. Blinking up at Jesse, he smiles warmly, reaching out to pet the cat.


Jackie: A small, agreeing noise rumbles in Tim’s throat, because for once it’s totally true - Mike had done nothing, Tim was right there to see it, and even if Maddox had held up anger from the past, it still wasn’t at all provoked in the hallway. Having slept in a hoodie and sweatpants (yet still managing to be cold), Tim puts a little more space in between himself and the other boy, and wipes at his face tiredly. “Maybe around seven thirty?” It feels early, and Tim usually has a pretty good internal alarm clock, but he’s not for certain. Still, he works his way out of the blankets and to his feet. “And it’s shower time for me.” He figures it’s better to do it now, as opposed to another hour, when more students are awake and more functioning. So he gives Mike a soft look and a gentle squeeze to the back of his neck, before departing for the locker room, where he can retrieve a few more articles of clothing that he keeps on hand, for after work outs and games.

The lack of response from Kellen does make Jesse’s eyebrows furrow, clearly confused; usually, breakfast is the boy’s favorite meal, and even when he’s tired, he’s excited to consume. But since the boy heads straight for Leech, he assumes it’s a Brother Thing, so he focuses his attention back on Cat, and holds her up, belly exposed, for Mal to pet at. He talks in a voice that he thinks Cat would sound like, were she a talking animal, and kind of shuffles her a little bit, to make it look like she’s talking. “Hellooooo, Mal!”


Jay: Mike nods for Tim's words, briefly thinking about joining him - but after the near-miss last night, it feels like that might be pushing their luck. It's much more likely that someone would come into the locker room this morning, than it was last night. So he merely smiles at Tim as the other boy heads off, starting to collect himself together to find food. Malachi laughs quietly, stroking the kitten's soft belly fur. "Good morning, Cat. And you, too, Jesse."

After a quick discussion with Leech, Kellen returns to the nest where he spent the night, only to snatch up his backpack. "I'm gunna go shower. I feel fuckin' filthy." Predictably, this gets a giggle and suggestive look from Mal, and Kellen grins back at him, ruffling his hair affectionately, then heading off to the showers in the locker rooms. Though it's all one big room, the shower heads are separated, rather than communal-style, and closed off by curtains; all are empty when he arrives, so Kellen takes the one closest to the door, grabbing his shampoo, conditioner, and body wash and leaving his backpack on a bench.


Jackie: Heading to the locker room, Tim thoughtlessly goes to his personal gym locker, having spent so much time in here that he doesn’t need to count each identical metal cell before finding his own. Inside, he grabs his little carrier of bathroom supplies and places it on a nearby bench, and then starts stripping down, leaving his fresh clothes there so they don’t get damp with steam. Once undressed, he wraps a towel around his lower half and then pads over to the showering area, humming a little under his breath. There’s no real surprise that it’s empty in here, since it’s early and most students don’t enjoy the communal showers, but Tim visibly flinches when he rounds the corner and spots Kellen, all long limbs and stark dark hair. “Oh.” He doesn’t mean to really say anything, so he just nods at Kellen, side stepping to get to the shower stall a few down from the one the boy is setting up at.


Jay: Likewise, Kellen is surprised by the appearance of another student, and the fact that it's Tim makes his jaw clench - an involuntary angry reflex - but he relaxes quickly enough and returns that nod, ducking into his own shower. It doesn't take long to get clean, and Kellen afterwards wraps a towel around his hips before emerging from the little curtained alcove. He sets his sundry shower items down, but doesn't get dressed right away, instead taking a seat on the bench near his backpack and lighting a cigarette. He isn't actively waiting for Tim, but he's still sitting there when Tim comes out. He looks at the other boy with more uncertainty than he had before the shower, having been musing in the interval about the awkwardness that has come up between himself and Tim; Kellen looks strange, almost vulnerable, lacking the usual dark eyeliner, with his hair all flattened down on his head. He seems for a moment like he's going to speak, but eventually, just takes another drag from his cigarette and looks at the floor, scowling at himself some, plainly ill at ease.


Jackie: There’s no doubt that things between Tim and Kellen have been tense since his split from Leech, and while Timothy himself hasn’t been vicious to the boy, Kellen has certainly had a little more bite in his glares, sounds of annoyance or total disregard, and his general demeanor. So when he clenches his jaw, Tim keeps on walking, knowing exactly why the boy harbors so much anger towards him, but also knowing that there’s no way to get him to see anything other than Leech’s side. Getting into the shower, Tim takes his time to shampoo, and scrub, and warm up under the hot water; by the time he’s finished, his skin is tinged pink, there’s plenty of steam lingering, and Kellen’s already out of his own shower and sitting on the bench, smoking. Stepping out of his alcove, Tim gathers his items and heads to the next embankment, where his locker is, not really addressing the boy because he isn’t in the mood to defend himself.


Jay: Looking up after a moment, Kellen realizes that Tim's about to move too far away for conversation, and impulsively calls out: "Tim, hang on. I..." He trails off, unable to force himself to apologize; instead, he takes a different tack. "Look, this shit - this awkwardness - I think we oughta try to get past it. I mean, we're gunna be around each other for the rest of the year, at least, an' I'd rather not spend it with both of us uncomfortable like this." And then, not to seem too conciliatory, he adds on: "And it arready sucks for Jesse, not bein' able to hang out with us at the same time. Sooner or later he's gunna realize somethin's up, if it keeps on, an' I really don' wanna try to explain this shit to him." Having gone back to staring at the floor between his feet as he talked, he now lifts his gaze to Tim again, looking reluctant and a little wary, but hopeful.


Jackie: Tim doesn’t immediately stop in his tracks when Kellen speaks up, but he does slow down some, only turning around when the other boy starts to detail more about what he’s getting at. With the towel wrapped around his hips, and one arm still holding his caboodle of shower items, Tim puts his weight to one side and looks at the boy evenly. The tactic of not apologizing is rather infuriating, but Timothy doesn’t let that show, instead just looking calm and quiet, like he’s listening to a lecture. Of course he’s felt like shit for the past two weeks, and Kellen’s behavior certainly hasn’t helped, so he just nods and turns to head back towards his locker. “Sure.” For Tim, it probably is that easy - it’s not like he’s been the one glaring and grumbling for days on end; he won’t need to change his own behavior in order for things to go back to normal.


Jay: To Kellen's mind, he probably doesn't even need to apologize, but it's undeniable that he feels a little inkling of guilt for the way he's been acting, particularly since Leech had already told him to lay off Tim. He blinks when the other boy replies, surprised by that, and not fully trusting it. Nipping at his lower lip uncertainly, he watches Tim's back for a moment before speaking up again. "Arrite...I'll, try not to be such a shit, then." Feeling at something of a disadvantage, he decides that putting on pants might help, and does so, pulling them on under his towel before removing it and standing up. "Jesse is pretty worried about you, y'know."


Jackie: Heading back towards his locker, Tim turns into the little area, which is like a hallway, except it has a long bench in the middle, accessible to all of the lockers on each wall. He snorts for Kellen’s reply, half doubting and half thinking that’s just piss poor, but he doesn’t say anything more, putting down his things and reaching for a clean pair of sweatpants. It doesn’t appear like they are having classes today, or at the very least structured classes, so he has no issue putting comfy pants back on. He slips them on and then takes off his towel, using it to scrub at his scalp while lowering his head, hoping that this doesn’t turn into A Thing that he’s going to have to deal with. The added comment isn’t what Tim was expecting, but it isn’t all that shocking, either, so he raises his voice a little bit so Kellen can hear. “That’s nothing new.”


Jay: When Tim snorts, Kellen grits his teeth briefly to keep from snapping at him, but since he's looking down it isn't obvious. Probably, it'll take some conscious effort for Kellen not to be such a shit. Once he's composed again, he pulls on a sleeveless shirt, maybe one of Leech's (it's hard to tell the difference sometimes), looking towards Tim before heading for the row of sinks with mirrors behind them. "No, it's not. But you've known him longer than I have, so I hoped ya might have an idea about how to reassure him." His words are light and intentionally inoffensive, casual, but his concern for Jesse is sort of obvious in them. Spraying some mousse into his hand, Kellen starts working it through his hair, tugging the strands out from the scalp.


Jackie: Once he’s got his head dry, Tim tosses his towel onto the bench, and goes about reorganizing his shower items inside of his locker. In the process, he snags his face wash and the towel once again, also taking up one of the bathroom sinks, but one that’s two down from where Kellen is. He flicks on one of faucets, letting it run for a moment to warm up, and glances up at his reflection briefly before squeezing some of the face wash into his palm. Although Kellen doesn’t say it with a tone, Tim can’t help but take the words as a sort of scolding, like Tim should know better than to worry Jesse. Which is entirely true. “I’ll talk to him.” Which is true - Tim will talk to Jesse, but he already has in the past, and it hasn’t done much to ease the boy’s worries. And then, before he ducks down to scrub at his face, he adds on: “He needs another ghost adventure, something to keep himself busy.” Which could be a great tactic for Tim - keep the kid busy, and he won’t have much time to worry. Unfortunately, that’s not how Jesse operates - he’ll keep busy, but worry at the times that keeping busy can’t occupy.


Jay: Kellen makes a noise of agreement for Tim's words - he would nod, but he's too occupied with his hair to move his head - and flicks a brief look at the other boy as he gets more mousse. "I don' really look forward to stakin' out the bell tower in this weather." Not to mention, the last time they'd tried, Leech found them and abused them for idiots, since it was such an obvious place for them to be if not in their dorms. "Got that trip next week, at least. But...I think, if distraction could make him stop worryin, he woulda stopped already." He offers this last line a little diffidently, still trying not to sound accusing.


Jackie: Ducked down into the sink, Tim scrubs at his face with the exfoliating wash, something Lars probably gave to him during a visit. He doesn’t make any noise for that dreading comment, since the water is rushing loudly and he doesn’t have much of a reply for it, but eventually Tim lifts his head and blindly gropes at the next sink for his towel, which he tossed on top of moments before. Burying his face into it, he works to dry his face just like he did his scalp, emerging from the fluffy fabric with a little bit of a deep inhale, since he wasn’t able to breathe all that much throughout. “He does this - worries when there’s no real need to. Even if I tell him not to, he doesn’t stop.” It could be argued that, in those cases, Jesse is just as stubborn as his best friend, or his room mate. Still, Tim offers no other technique to get the boy to cut it out, but only because he doesn’t know how to aside from being happy, himself.


Jay: Kellen snorts quietly, finally lifting his head to turn to Tim with a little amused half-smile, affection for his roommate coloring his words. "'course he doesn't. He'll only stop worrying when he's convinced yer not unhappy anymore." Turning back to the sink, Kellen tugs at his hair here and there until deciding it's sufficient, turning to go back to his bag and put the mousse away. He doesn't add that he knows Tim has reasons to be unhappy, because it would be redundant, and he doesn't want to get into another argument. It doesn't escape him that Jesse's feelings towards Tim are much like Kellen's own, towards Leech, but that probably isn't a good thing to bring up, either.


Jackie: “Guess we can’t say he isn’t resilient.” In saying so, Tim agrees with Kellen’s words, knowing that there’s no way Jesse is going to stop looking at him warily, or maybe talking about him to Kellen and Lars, until Tim is full of life and bright and happy and cheerful. Probably, the boy would at least settle for a few more smiles that don’t come from Mike trying everything up his sleeve to make happen. Padding his way back to his locker, Tim hangs up his towel inside of it to dry, and then reaches for his deodorant. When he talks this time, it’s in a more tired tone, like he knows what his demeanor is doing to the boy. “I’ll talk to him again.”


Jay: Kellen gives a laugh for that, but it's plainly somewhat forced; it doesn't last as long as his usual ones, and isn't anywhere near as enthusiastic. "Yeh, you should. I think he expects you to magically feel all better now that yer...the whole Ness thing." He waves a hand, sounding remarkably unaffected by 'the Ness thing'. Tilting his head down, he sprays some hairspray around it briefly, then sits down to pull on socks. Rather than grinding the topic of Jesse further into the dirt, Kellen glances at Tim with a more normal, Kellenesque smile hovering around the corners of his mouth. "Looks like that was quite an accident he had." His tone says plainly that he knows Ness didn't have an accident at all, and he's amused by the weak cover-up.


Jackie: There’s a brief moment for Tim stills for the mention of his room mate (boyfriend? partner? lover?), but thankfully his body only skips a few beats, then he’s back to putting his deodorant on and stuffing it back in his locker. He grunts quietly, all that he can muster as a reply, since anything else will just lead to a headache. Still shirtless, he goes to grab some lotion, skin dry from the winter; he unloads some into his palm and works it over his face, the shaved part of his scalp, and his neck, hands rubbing it in harder than most would. He looks over at Kellen when he continues talking, a brief glance as if he’s checking the boy to see if he shows any signs of knowing the truth. But the kid obviously knows something, or assumes it - he does know Mike well enough to know when he’s bull shitting people - so he shrugs a shoulder, trying to careless. “Pretty cheap shot, if you ask me.”


Jay: Kellen doesn't know precisely what went on, but having seen both Ness and Maddox Reed, he can make a good guess. There's another noise of amusement for Tim's defense (probably thinking he'd say that no matter what), but Kellen nods his head while he laces his boots. "Yeh, it's strange, how accidents always happen around that Reed kid. He must be bad luck." Pulling his heels onto the bench, Kellen loops an arm loosely around his shins and looks back at Tim curiously. "What'd he do? Sneak up while Ness' back was turned?" He doesn't sound concerned for Mike, but neither does he sound like he's gloating over his injuries, just curious overall.


Jackie: Although Tim had agreed to end the awkwardness around Kellen, he doesn’t seem to be trying to alleviate any of it that still lingers. He can tell that Kellen is still holding back certain thoughts and opinions, and it isn’t as though he can talk to him about Mike - the kid would babble it all off to Leech, or totally disregard it all because it isn’t about Leech. So again, he hums for the first comment, as if to agree, and finally pulls out a shirt. Taking a seat on the bench, he tugs it on, pulling it down over his torso. His voice is very obviously controlled. “We ran into him in the hallway. Maddox just…started running, tackled Mike to the ground and started throwing punches.”


Jay: It's impossible to miss the careful way Tim is speaking, but Kellen doesn't let it affect his own response too obviously, still trying for a casual tone. "Sounds about right. Kid's a total lunatic sometimes. I really don' like --" He cuts himself off before he can finish and say he doesn't like knowing Leech is alone with the kid a lot of the time, trying to segue as smoothly as possible. "At least he didn' take it sitting down. Reed looked pretty messed up, too, when they came back to the weight room. His lip was still swollen this morning." Not that Maddox appeared to notice or care about the injury. Dropping his feet back to the floor with his usual fidgetty movement, Kellen drags out another cigarette and lights it up, offering the pack to Tim afterwards as something of a gesture of good faith.


Jackie: In describing Maddox, Tim chirps a little, amused, because it’s very easy to just say the kid is a lunatic, and leave it at that. Tim hadn’t known much about him, still doesn’t, but from the scene last night, he isn’t all that surprised that most students (and teachers) fear the kid. Done with his shirt, Tim leans forward to grab a pair of socks, unravelling them before bending a leg up onto the bench so he can work it on. “After last night, I plan on keeping one eye on him, any time he’s near.”

Starting on the second sock, he glances over for the offer of the cigarette, and nods to show that he wants it, but just can’t take it quite yet. So he hurries up to get the sock on and then reaches for the pack, taking one out and snagging the lighter Kellen left between the two of them. He talks around the filter, cigarette bumping along: “Yeah, well, it’s not like Mike hasn’t had a lot of practice.”


Jay: Kellen nods, obviously agreeing that it's a good plan, though he seems a little distracted. "Yeh...yeh, 's a good idea." Quite obviously, Kellen's thinking how there's no one to keep an eye on him, anytime he's near Leech, zoning out while he watches the smoke spiraling up from his cigarette. The next comment draws his focus back to the conversation, and reassures him as well; Leech has had practice, too, and is remarkably good at subduing people even with as small as he is. Probably learned from years watching Duster with Ruckus. "That's true. Ness isn' in trouble for it, is he?"


Jackie: Tim can definitely sense the sort of distracted execution in Kellen’s words, but chalks it up to the boy’s mind wandering, perhaps thinking over his own schedule, and if and when he runs into Maddox. Cigarette lit, Tim leans back a bit, hearing the joints in his spine pop as he blows smoke up towards the ceiling. He shakes his head briefly, distancing himself. “Nah, your brother let us go.” Apparently, he can’t even bring himself to say the dude’s name.


Jay: Only looking moderately surprised for that, Kellen tilts his head. "Yeh?" He surely notices that Tim doesn't use his brother's name, but doesn't react to it, shrugging a shoulder lazily. "Guess that's not so surprising. If he punished Ness for it, he'd have to punish Reed, an' I'm pretty sure that kid's outta here if he fucks up any more. They wanted to kick him out, send him home, after he tried to kill himself, but Leech wouldn' let 'em. Which...is why he's sorta responsible for him now." Kellen removes the cigarette from his mouth, ashes it into his backpack thoughtlessly, then replaces it. "Wonder what it is between them, that he attacked on sight like that. I've never heard Ness mention him before, have you?"


Jackie: Unlike Kellen, Tim ashes off to the side of the bench, not caring much where they land since the floor is all tiled anyways. He’ll probably clean it up before he leaves, so as not to leave any evidence. Without thought, an eyebrow furrows inward, instantly curious, and he can’t stop himself from asking: “Why would he do that?” But immediately afterwards, Tim shakes his head, realizing he doesn’t need to know any of the reasons behind Leech’s actions, including the reasoning he has for not wanting Maddox kicked out. Frustrated with himself, he moves to keep busy, and leans forward again to grab his shoes, unlacing them. “I’ve got no idea - Mike just mentioned, before their fight yesterday, that they got into it before, and Maddox bit him."


Jay: In this case, Kellen wouldn't be able to assuage Tim's curiosity anyway; he shrugs broadly, eyes widening to show his own confusion. "I got no fuckin' clue. Kid doesn' have a single redeeming quality that I can see." But, this isn't the first thing Leech has done that's utterly incomprehensible to Kellen, so he doesn't dwell on it. For the information about Ness, Kellen only says 'ahhh' in an understanding tone, and laughs some for the thought of Maddox biting someone, but it really doesn't answer anything - Ness has gotten into fights with plenty of people here.


Jackie: Of course, Kellen answers the question that Tim wishes he could wipe away, but he still listens carefully to what’s said. Surely, since the kid has no redeeming qualities that can be seen, it must mean that there are some qualities not shown to everyone else - something for Leech’s eyes only. Shaking his head again, Tim gets a shoe on and ties it up, immediately tugging on the second while still working on killing off his cigarette. Not wanting to linger on the subject, or maybe to try to distance his mind from it, Tim mumbles out: “Better to just keep distance between him."


Jay: Turning to the side to lay out on the bench while he finishes his cigarette, Kellen gives a lazy grunt of acknowledgment, obviously assuming Tim is talking about Ness and Maddox. "Shouldn' be hard. I think he's in permanent isolation for the rest'a his stay here." Which is not reassuring, but maybe he won't attack Leech if he's the only source of comfort and privilege he has.


Jackie: With the second shoe on, Tim drops both feet to the ground, but remains sitting there, staring into his locker. He has the urge to strip it clean, reorganize it all (even though it’s meticulously clean), just for something to do, but he refrains. He hums again, shorter and sharper, maybe a little reassured that Maddox will be locked up. But of course, that just leads him to thinking about Leech checking up on him, spending time with him, and Tim shakes the images out of his mind again, finishing his cigarette and getting up to dispose of it in a toilet.


Jay: Lifting his head to watch Tim uncertainly, when he gets no more response than that, Kellen gives a quiet sigh (unintentionally leech-like) and drops his feet to either side of the bench, hauling himself into a sitting position and watching Tim as he goes to put that cigarette out. For the first time, now, there's some strain in Kellen's voice, a hint of impatience. "Tim, c'mon. I'm trying, here. Think maybe you could try, too?"


Jackie: Slinking down past the sinks and tossing his cigarette into a toilet, Tim uses his foot to flush it down, emerging back at his locker just in time to hear Kellen’s voice. He glances at the boy, a little surprised for what is said, and reaches around his locker for his tooth brush and tooth paste, grabbing both items before retreating to the sinks, which are still in eye sight of where Kellen is sitting. “I am, Kellen.” Squirting some paste onto his brush, Tim sticks it under the sink before stuffing it into his mouth.


Jay: Kellen cocks his head for that answer, blatantly doubtful, narrowing one eye. His voice, however, remains fairly casual. "Are you?" He tracks Tim's movements with his eyes for a second, not giving much time for response - it was a rhetorical question, anyway. "It's not easy fer me, either."


Jackie: Hovering over the sink, Tim starts his brushing, the toothpaste lathering up inside of his mouth. His eyes flick up into the mirror, angled enough that he can look at Kellen semi-directly, and he doesn’t at all look sympathetic. Instead, he stops brushing, and talks around the foam. “Really. And how many people do you have acting like an asshole to you?” Because on top of Tim being heart broken, he also has had to deal with Kellen - or not deal with, but watch, the boy and his obvious anger.


Jay: Meeting the eyes in the mirror, Kellen's own darken some, but he swallows harshly to keep his own anger from surfacing. But he can't keep his voice completely placating. "Not too many. I jus' gotta watch my brother fallin' apart and be able to do nothin' at all about it. An' then I get to spend time every day with one'a the people who caused it, and try to hide how much it bothers me." He looks away from Tim, upset but confused, too, standing to go throw his own cigarette butt in a toilet, staring down as it flushes to keep from looking at Tim and doing his best to sound reasonable. "I don' dislike you, Tim, but it isn't easy. I can't do anything for him."


Jackie: After he speaks, there’s a brief moment that is silent, and Tim goes back to brushing to teeth, thinking maybe he made a point. But then Kellen meets his eyes, and replies, and Tim’s own gaze narrows. He drops the hand that’s holding his toothbrush down to the sink, clenching at the plastic handle harshly. He spits out the foam in his mouth and ducks under the faucet to rinse, lifting his head in time to hear the rest of the boy’s words. There’s definitely a part of him that feels a stab of guilt, maybe not realizing how much this may be impacting Leech because the guy is so damn good at looking blank, like there’s nothing at all that’s bothering him. Still, he doesn’t completely give in to Kellen’s reasoning, and moves a little more stiffly back to his locker to dispose of his hygiene items and wipe his mouth dry on his hanging towel. “Yeah, Kellen? And what do you expect me to do?” He turns around and looks back at the boy, leaning into the locker and crossing his arms over his chest. “You’ve been doing nothing but glaring at me, grumbling, or completely ignoring my presence since—“ He waves a hand, not sure how to describe what exactly happened between himself and Leech. “And you say you don’t want it to be awkward? Kellen, this is the first time you’ve looked me in the eye in two weeks.”


Jay: Kellen tilts his head to the side to listen to all of that, but doesn't turn around until Tim's finished, his eyes wide with intensity. "What do you expect me to do? He's my fucking brother, an' you —" But he stops himself before getting any more worked up, shaking his head at himself and pacing back towards the benches at the center of the room. "Jus'...if it were Jesse, say. If I'd been dating Jesse, an' I - and this same situation came up. Even if you liked me fer myself, even if Jesse told ya not to hold it against me, I bet you'd still have trouble looking me in the eye, wouldn't you?" He blinks at Tim from closer now, genuinely beseeching and, even if he doesn't come out and say it, regretful.


Jackie: “I know—“ Tim’s voice is noticeably louder, and he stops himself, trying to get his volume in check so that no one comes in here and overhears something. He also takes a second to gather his thoughts, looking off to the side before back up at the other boy. “I know he’s your brother, Kellen. And that you’re looking out for him. But this hasn’t been a walk in the park for me, either. So, sorry if I can’t muster up a smile, right now.” He seems to be a little bit more calm now, at least in his voice, but he’s definitely clutching at himself a little tighter, clearly uncomfortable. He waits a moment, thinking, before pushing his shoulders into the locker to then propel himself into motion. But he only uses the momentum to turn back around, and rummage through his belongings. “I fucked up. I know that, too.”


Jay: Kellen is likely starting to think this won't work - regaining a friendly basis with Tim is a lost cause - but he doesn't interrupt the other boy. It's very rare that Kellen talks about anything serious at all, so he's left feeling a little uncomfortable by all of this, and that's probably apparent in his stance, the way his arms are crossed, making him look his age for once. The last statement surprises him, not really having expected Tim to admit to this situation being his fault. "Yeh. Well, I can't do shit to help Leech, but I'd really like to get past it with you. If we can. You don' gotta smile - if you even remember how -" This aside is given in a lighter, teasing but not taunting voice. "But jus' a little effort? For Jesse's sake, if nothin' else." He doesn't add, For Leech's sake, too, even though Leech has made it plain that watching Kellen glower disdainfully at Tim all the time does not help him forget about the whole thing.


Jackie: Although the mantra of ‘this is all your fault, you fucked up’ has been playing in his mind for the past two weeks, Tim hasn’t once said it out loud. So this time, when he does, it feels like taking three bullets to the stomach, and one to the chest. Luckily, he’s turned around, and he has the chance to swallow down his emotions to wipe them clean off his face. “It was never you I had to get past shit with, Kellen.” This isn’t said meanly, but maybe just pointedly; as if trying to remind the boy that Tim has done absolutely nothing to him directly. Sure, Kellen is dealing with the situation because of his relationship with Leech, but that’s strictly it. Grabbing a zip up hoodie from inside his locker, Tim slips it on and works on the zipper, feeling much colder than he did a few minutes ago. Still with his back turned, he agrees in much the same manner he did earlier. “Sure.”


Jay: Of course, Kellen doesn't notice those emotions, since Tim is facing the other direction. When he speaks again, Kellen groans a little, raising both hands to rub at his face and then dropping them, flinging them out to his sides helplessly. "I know, that's what I mean. All you gotta get past is me actin' like a total twat. If you can." So, maybe Kellen isn't apologizing, but he is getting pretty close. He snorts for Tim's belated agreement, probably about to point out that it's exactly what he said before, but before he can say anything, the door bangs open behind them.

Spinning quickly towards the sound, Kellen's eyes stretch ridiculously wide at the prospect greeting him - apparently the headmaster, though it's hard to tell under the greenish face mask he has on, bundled up in a ridiculously bright colored, floral patterned dressing gown and humming happily to himself. For a moment, Kellen's too terrified to react at all, but that passes quickly, and then he shrieks, outrageously exaggerated and high-pitched. Like a little French girl.


Jackie: Shrugging the hood of his sweatshirt up onto his shoulders, Tim eventually drags it up around his head, more to keep his neck warm than to cower into it. He might roll his eyes to himself, figuring that Kellen isn’t going to get to that apology - not that Tim wants one, but it’d be satisfying to see it come from someone so reluctant to do so. “Or, you can stop acting like a fucking asshole.” The words sound harsh, but Tim sounds pretty level about it - and really, Kellen surely knows he’s been acting like an asshole, or as a twat as he puts it, so it’s not as though the name calling is unwarranted. Fixing the collared area of his hood, Tim flinches some at the sound of someone entering the bathroom, and directs his eyes to the hallway area, where he sees Jefe paddling through, ridiculous slippers flip flopping against the tile.

The headmaster, lost in his little world, doesn’t notice the boys until Kellen shrieks; then, he jumps a bit, and looks over at both boys with a ridiculously joyful smile. “Hello, boys! I see you’ve paid your visit to the shower fairies. I’m about to do the same!” Noticing that it was Kellen who shrieked, Jefe uses his shower scrub brush to reach out and tap the tip of Kellen’s nose with it, then chirping in amusement and waddling back towards the shower stalls. Tim, dumbfounded by this, belatedly slams his locker shut, shaking his head and heading towards the exit.


Jay: Kellen would absolutely agree with that suggestion, but he's far too distracted to pay it any attention. He doesn't move until that shower brush nears his face, jerking back suddenly, wrinkling his assaulted nose. "Ahhh..." He glances to Tim as if for help, but then just nods rapidly, catching up his backpack and stuffing everything back in it as he walks rapidly towards the doorway. He only speaks again once they get out of the room, still looking shell-shocked. "Jesus. Jesus fuck." Shaking his head in bewilderment, Kellen walks more quickly than usual back to the main gym, as if afraid that the headmaster will chase them down.

Once through the doors, he pauses, seeking. He spots Jesse and Malachi (and Jade, looking like he doesn't even know them) not far from where they'd slept, sitting on the ground near Leech while they eat breakfast. Leech is playing his acoustic, acting unconscious of this audience; Maddox is a little farther back, perched on Leech's drum box and banging out an accompaniment, looking as close to content as Kellen's ever seen him. Michael, too, is seated not far away, though he isn't focused on Leech. Without a word, Kellen heads in that direction, smiling a little as he comes in range of his brother's rough voice.

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