nextinline: (Timothy)
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Tim: Despite the handful of times he’s tried reassuring Jesse this week, the younger boy is more concerned about Tim than usual. No doubt, having Mike removed for his dorm, and not on a regular rotation of medicine, Tim’s been nothing short of a zombie. Even when he is around Jesse, mostly in guitar class or during meals, the boy can hardly smile, let alone carry a full blown conversation. So Jesse’s been doing cartwheels all week, trying to lift his spirits, and therefore following him around even when they don’t normally cross paths; Tim’s sure the boy has changed his typical routes to classes just so he can give Tim a hug in the hallway.

Trying to avoid the sad, sad looks that Jesse has made a habit of giving him, unintentionally, Tim decides to wander the school just before lights out, when most students are in their dorms, preparing for bed. It’s been a few weeks since his impromptu escape with Michael, so his own reins have lessened, but he still can’t leave the main buildings without permission. Eventually, he finds himself in the arts hallway, where the music room and art studios are. Even before he hears anything, he’s checking to make sure no one is around, so he can pull open the door to his guitar classroom and make his way in. Then he hears the soft piano playing, and can almost instantly recognize who is playing it. Part of him wants to retreat, give the boy some space, but his body is drawn to the music, so he slips silently in. Hovering near the door, to make sure it closes quietly, Tim zeros in on the parasite at the piano, and a part of him softens. He waits half a minute, observing, and then goes to grab a nearby acoustic guitar - one of the many Leech keeps stored here - and perches on a stool behind the older boy, not near him. There, he starts to play along, head bowed to watch the fretboard.

Leech: Likewise, Leech had a severe need to get away from his own quarters. Kellen might have lightened up on his concern for Leech in the last couple of days, but he still hovers more than Leech can stand, and there's Maddox to be avoiding, too. He didn't much feel like anyone else's company either, certainly not anyone here, so the classroom seemed the best choice, and he's been here since the kids' dinner-time, originally reorganizing things since the flood threat had everything disrupted, but eventually he found himself sitting down at the piano.

The door opening is only noticed when he sees the movement out of his peripheral vision, and Leech feels a brief irritation, thinking Kellen sought him out. But a quick glance proves him wrong. He watches Timothy for a moment before giving a minute nod of greeting, never ceasing his melody, and glad when the kid doesn't seem to want to interrupt him. They had started speaking during the trip the previous weekend, and though they certainly aren't anything like as friendly as they were even before he collared Timothy, Leech doesn't feel that uncomfortable tension he's come to expect from their encounters. So he just focuses on the keys again, not minding when the guitar joins in.

Tim: Taking a moment to get this guitar’s tuning just right, Tim eventually is satisfied and starts to play more completely, accompanying Leech’s piano playing without ever overpowering it. There’s quite a bit of distance between them, but it’s been like this for weeks now; Tim’s just silently grateful that he’s able to stomach being around the boy, since for a while his insides were constantly in knots. Taking cues from the parasite, Tim continues playing until the older boy starts to drop off. He never really stops playing, just slows down and lowers the volume noticeably, so Timothy follows suit. Never one brave enough to start conversation, he remains quiet, and keeps his focus down on his guitar.

Leech: As the song comes to a close, Leech delicately removes his hands from the keys, bringing one up so he can gnaw at his thumbnail. He's acutely aware of the boy behind him, if not made tense by his presence, and turns his head slightly to the side, waiting for Timothy to speak up. When it becomes apparent that Timothy isn't going to speak, Leech lifts his chin and cuts his eyes back to look at him - not failing to notice how downcast and lifeless the boy looks - and, once he seems to be aware of the gaze, Leech motions with his head for the boy to come somewhat closer. When he does, Leech starts on a different song, though in the same slow, morose line as the last, playing the main part through once until Timothy can catch on to the general progression. This seems much easier than actual conversation, and more soothing.

Tim: Although Leech stops playing, Tim never does, fingers continuously plucking at the guitar, although it’s much less structured without the piano to lull it out. Despite their sort-of make up, or at least clearing of air, during their trip to the ocean, Tim isn’t very comfortable around the older man, and it seems like both times he’s joined the parasite, alone, he’s instantly wondering what the hell he’s doing. When Leech doesn’t immediately pick a new song, Tim lifts his eyes just in time to see that head nod, motioning him closer. His first reaction is to ignore it, to keep the space and fall into his own shell, but he’s able to muster the strength and courage (since all he really is around his teacher, these days, is scared) to get closer. He doesn’t join him at the piano, but does take a new seat at a nearby stool, eyes focused on Leech’s fingers to watch what they’re playing before attempting to join. It doesn’t take him long, since he is quite talented - not that anyone can really tell - and soon he’s playing right along with the boy, still quiet and subdued in doing so.

Leech: Leech continues playing until Timothy catches on, the barest hint of a curve appearing at the corner of his mouth in approval; though he isn't as much a show-off as Hollywood or Jade, Leech assuredly hasn't missed the fact that the boy is talented, and in particular, picks up new melodies quite quick. When the song allows for it, Leech smoothly segues back to the beginning, playing a few bars before starting to sing. "I grew up here all of my life, but I dreamed someday I'd go...where the blue-eyed girls, and the red guitars, and the naked rivers flow..." His voice is fairly quiet, since their playing isn't so loud that he has to strain to be heard over it, and the low volume makes it that much rougher. "I'm not all I thought I'd be, I've always stayed around...I've been as far as Mercy and Grand, frozen to the ground...I can't stay here and I'm scared to leave, so kiss me once and then...I'll go to hell, I might as well be whistlin' down the wind..."

Tim: Having neglected his guitar, save for actual class - too uninspired or reluctant to do something that may bring up emotions - Tim starts to feel his shoulders relaxing the tiniest amount, comforted by playing. He keeps like this, hunched into himself and playing softly, until Leech’s voices starts to echo out of his mouth. He hasn’t heard Leech sing very often, but any time he did, it was soothing - like a warm blanket, but with razor blades for threading. But now, it feels cold, distant. Almost instantly, he tenses up, and maybe even misses a chord or two, but determined to not bring attention to himself, Tim keeps playing, willing his body to just fucking stop it and relax.

Leech: Noticing those sudden mistakes, not matter how well Timothy recovers, Leech turns - not quite enough to face him, but enough to throw a questioning look his way - continuing to play all the while. The tension in those shoulders isn't overwhelmingly obvious, but Leech notes it anyway, the corners of his mouth tightening as he switches verses, but since Timothy seems to want it ignored - and since Leech wouldn't know what to say regardless - he just faces the keyboard and goes on. "...the dog is tied to a wagon of rain, and the road's as wet as the sea...sometimes the music from a dance carries across the plains; the places that I'm dreaming of, do they dream only of me?...there are places where they never sleep, and the circus never ends, so I will take the Marlybone coach and be whistlin' down the wind..." He repeats the last line once more, bringing the song to a slowing, eventual close, and like last time, pausing after the last note fades; this time, he doesn't look at Timothy, still too aware of the discomfort his voice appeared to cause.

Tim: Grateful that his fuck up seems to have gone unnoticed, or at least ignored, Tim forces himself back into the song, taking a good minute to feel like he’s back into the thick of it, undeterred. A little better braced for when Leech starts singing again, Tim doesn’t really flinch, but he does close his eyes. But this is a bad idea, since it just heightens his other senses; that voice is finer, and Tim can maybe feel the breath coming from Leech’s mouth - which is doubtful, really, but Tim could nearly swear upon it. So to better save himself, Tim forces his eyes open, flicking his eyes back to the piano just to gauge its playing to his own. As the song winds down, so does Tim’s guitar, and eventually all that’s left is Tim dragging his fingers along the strings, making that metallic sounding scraping noise, but softly, barely an echo. He’s looking at his guitar as he speaks. “That’s a nice one.”

Leech: Leech narrows his eyes at nothing in particular, maybe thinking, and dancing his fingertips over the keys without actually depressing any of them, not drawing any noise from the instrument. When Timothy actually speaks, Leech draws his mind back into focus and looks sidelong at the boy; he'd almost been thinking they'd both just sit here playing, without exchanging a word, until one or the other one of them got up to leave. "Thanks. 's one'a the first ones I wrote." He tries to keep his voice casual, as if this sort of encounter isn't something he's unused to. "Jefe asked me to come up with a couple'a songs to do fer the recital, to occupy the time between yer class' performances an' the drama club's play. Give 'em time to get the set up and all."

Tim: Tim makes a quiet little noise of understanding for that, although it may be a little strangled. It’s hard enough to play alongside this boy right now, but to be playing one of his songs makes Tim’s skin rush cold. Thankfully, the feeling doesn’t last long, and Tim still has his guitar in his lap, so he plucks quietly, barely letting his instrument echo, no real song in mind but just something to take up the silence when neither one of them is speaking. Finally lifting his head fully, instead of having it bowed, Tim looks more directly at the parasite, eyes briefly scanning his form, the way he’s perched at his piano like it’s his nest. He has the desire to scoot closer, but doesn’t. “That’s a good idea. Better than that Christmas music they played last semester.”

Leech: Leech scoffs for the reminder of that. "I wouldn' put it past him to play Christmas music again, even if it is almost spring." Lifting a hand, Leech rifles through the various sheets of music on the piano - some printed professionally, some hand-written - setting aside this one and that after glancing over them. "Prolly should do stuff on guitar, since the sound'll arready be set up for it, but..." He trails off, giving one of his restrained shrugs; piano just felt right at the moment. Finding a sheet he hasn't seen in a while, Leech studies it with narrowed eyes, and a flash of grin crosses his face when he recognizes it - there and gone so swiftly it's barely noticeable. Settling the stapled pages in the center of the music holder, he starts playing again, a melody much different from the last - staccato, almost dissonant in spots, like a drunken amateur has taken over the keyboard.

Tim: Tim forces out a small snort, amused but not enough to actually laugh, because it’s undeniably true. He can’t muster up anything else, either incapable of it or not wanting to, and sits back a little bit, finally halting his playing. Still, he redirects his eyes to his own instrument, contemplating how the hell he’s going to do that recital, now that Michael is in isolation for the foreseeable future. He won’t argue against Leech playing the piano, since it is quite nice, albeit uncomfortable; it may just be something Tim will have to get used to, along with a slew of other parasitic things. Now just holding the guitar to his lap, Tim starts to readjusts the tuning pegs again, trying to perfect them, and glancing back up at his teacher when he starts to play again. This song is a little more surprising, and Tim isn’t sure how to take it, or what direction to take it in, so he instead stays out of it.

Leech: Unaware of the look he gets from Timothy, Leech continues playing, apparently in disjointed and unpracticed fashion. He begins humming when it becomes apparent that the boy isn't going to play along - though that isn't surprising - and then suddenly starts singing. "Well, Jesus gunna be here, he gunna be here soon...he gunna cover us up with leaves, with a blanket from the moon...with a promise and a vow, with a lullabye for my brow..." He sings markedly louder than the last song, in a higher octave, and throws in a lisp for good measure - the entire effect being reminiscent of a large black woman, perhaps in a Baptist church.

Tim: Apparently, Tim doesn’t have to worry about conversation, right now: Leech seems pretty intent on not really talking, and sticking to the music. As the parasite starts to sing, Tim’s a little taken back by the change in voice, but he doesn’t seem ruffled; he just sits on his stool and keeps the guitar to his chest, watching and listening. Eventually, though, he decides to join in - but it’s random little plucks and strums of the guitar, really just as an accent to the piano and that voice.

Leech: "Well I'm not gunna do nothin but wait here, I don't have to shout it....I got me no reason an' I got no doubt..." Leech continues singing in that ridiculous voice, and is a little surprised when Timothy starts playing along. Leech is certain that if he played this song in Kellen's presence, the kid would already be on the floor laughing, and perhaps the parasite was trying to get at least a smile from Timothy. Apparently, that isn't to be, but Leech doesn't give up just yet. "I'm gunna watch the road risin' from a brand new Ford, I can hear him rollin' on down the lane; I said Hollywood be thy name...Jesus gonna be here..." He manages to make it through the majority of the song, but eventually falls apart at 'I been so good, except for drinking, but He knew that I would...' - then, he breaks off, rolling his face aside to press it into his shoulder and coughing a brief laugh; it's nothing like Kellen's paralyzing hilarity, but still very effusive for the Leech. "Fer fuck's sake...I musta been high when I wrote that one."

Tim: Tim’s “playing” isn’t much more than a few random plucks and strums, nothing at all that sounds structured or even intended. If Tim weren’t so hopped up on his antidepressants, and generally not such a wreck, he’d maybe be smiling and laughing along, over exaggerating his movements for dramatic effect. But as it is, Tim just appears to look a bit looser, more relaxed. Up until he sees Leech break down, himself. It’s enough for the boy to crack, and he ends his strumming with a few more rounds, playing the strings both up and down like some extravagant ending to a dramatic song. Although he doesn’t laugh, he does lower his head and shake it briefly, like he’s washing away a smile (although one was never there), and speaks up in a lighter tone. “Drunk, maybe.”

Leech: Leech nods some in agreement, setting the sheet music aside and still looking somewhat amused, though in a restrained way, undoubtedly pleased with himself for getting some response from Timothy. "Sad thing is, I'm pretty sure Jefe would approve'a that one before most of the others..." Having gone through everything on the holder, Leech pushes himself up on one knee to grab a folder off the top of the instrument and start shuffling through the music there, instead.

Tim: “Maybe he could accompany you on guitar.” The thought alone is terrifying; Tim’s fairly certain that, were Jefe to have a guitar in his grasp, the lunatic would be pacing around the small crowd, encouraging a sing along. As Leech ruffles through more sheets, Tim starts to play a little bit of Dylan, just to keeps his hands busy, and watches the fretboard when he speaks up again. “…what’s going to happen at the recital? Am I supposed to…do one song, or am I not passing this semester?” He really hopes it’s not the latter - he needs good grades to eventually get the hell out of here.

Leech: There's a snort for that suggestion, but Leech doesn't address it otherwise, not even willing to consider the possibility. Besides, Timothy's next questions make what was left of his amusement evaporate; he's been doing his best not to think about Ness, and has been enjoying it so far. Shaking his head, he replies tersely. "Yer partner oughta be out of isolation in time to perform." He doesn't have much knowledge of how Ness is being punished, other than knowing he wasn't kicked out, and has no desire to learn more.

Tim: If he were looking at the other boy, he’d maybe see the way the relaxed, amused nature was taking over his form - or at least showing around the edges. But even if he doesn’t see it, Tim certainly hears it in his voice, and there’s definitely a pain somewhere in his gut that is his body’s way of telling him to shut the fuck up. “Oh.” Tim had thought that maybe the rest of the semester was fucked for his room mate, and that at the very least he’d be kicked out of guitar class. His own playing is slowing down, getting quieter, but doesn’t stop fully.

Leech: Though Timothy didn't say Ness' name, didn't even directly refer to him, Leech is still annoyed by the oblique mention and the concern he can't help but feel it implies. He tries to get past it to the best of his abilities, setting the folder in his lap and picking out the tune written on the current page like he's trying to jar his memory. "I dunno what the fuck I'm gunna do about Kellen's group. They won' stop fuckin' with Lovato - and I don' blame them, exactly, but they're gunna look like idiots onstage. 'specially since he seems dead set against learning his parts in the songs and keeps tryin' to play lead on 'em all." At least here, the irritation in his voice is warranted.

Tim: On top of having to deal with his split with Leech, which has taken over the majority of his brain space and, perhaps cruelly, his chest space, Tim’s been struggling with his concern over Michael. No doubt the boy was in the wrong, but Tim’s mind has been flying non stop with assumptions of the boy’s punishment and, especially at night, he misses his room mate and his ability to make Tim forget about everything else. Instead of dwelling, or even allowing himself to think more about him, Tim lifts his head and forces it all away, as if it’s that easy. “Could maybe just assign them certain parts, that only they’re allowed to play. Tony’s just going to do whatever pisses them off.”

Leech: Leech shrugs at that, a little hopelessly. "I could try. Think Puget will still find a way to fuck him up when they're playin' though. Like today when he spun all his tuning knobs while Lovato was plugging his guitar in..." Shaking his head, he ceases the current song and flips to the next page, looking through a few of them. "I know he's annoying as shit, an' not talented at all, but they're jus' making it worse. Mebbe I shoulda stuck him an' Jesse together; 'least Jesse has enough patience to put up with it." Pausing in his song search, he digs a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lights one.

Tim: It’s kind of odd, hearing Leech not exactly defend Lovato, but not join in on the absolute harassment. Tim joins in on shaking his head, unable to offer up any other solutions because he has none; if he were in better spirits, he’d be right along with Kellen and Jade, fucking with the boy. Or at least standing there as an amused bystander. “Jesse and Justin seem to be doing really well together, though. Could’ve put Justin with Tony, I guess…”

Leech: Of course Leech doesn't like Lovato, wishes the kid had never picked up a guitar, and particularly wishes the kid had never come to his class - but he's not so blinded that he can't see that the kid isn't always the instigator. He gives a snort for that suggestion immediately, shaking his head. "Justin can be jus' as vicious as Puget or Kellen, he's jus' more subtle. 'sides, their playing styles are too divergent - they never woulda found a song they could agree on. If Lovato picked one, Justin'd be bored out of his mind; if Justin picked, Lovato would have no chance of keepin' up." Leaning away from the piano, he looks about for his ashtray, finally spotting it on an amp nearby. So he relocates the folder to the top of the piano and gets up, going over to flick his cigarette into it. "Guess I could have him play with you, since yer all alone this week." He sideglances at Timothy slyly, not quite smirking.

Tim: Tim chirps in something like amusement, but it could be argued that Justin and Jesse don’t really play the same style. Tim’s pretty sure Justin agreed to their choice of songs just because Jesse seemed thrilled to have gotten up to a playing level that enables him to play them with ease. Not that that’s a bad thing; really, Tim thinks it’s nice to see Jesse building friendships beyond their own, and the one he has with Kellen. Still playing a little bit of Farewell Angelina, Tim’s eyes immediately snap up to Leech’s form and follows him as he moves around, not at all okay with the suggestion because he could very well end up in the same predicament as his room mate. “…please don’t.”

Leech: More amused by that, but still not showing it other than a certain something in his eyes, Leech shakes his head. "Nah, I won't. Kellen an' Puget are gunna have to learn to put up with him somehow, an' this is the last week they got to do it." Moving the ashtray to a nearby table, Leech sits down on the amp, instead - wincing some as he bends. He picks up the nearby electric-acoustic and plants the cigarette in his mouth while he checks the tuning. "Lars gunna come fer visitors day again?" He can't help being reminded of the previous visitors' day, and his first meeting with Lars - when the boy caught him and Timothy kissing on his bed - but shoves the memory forcibly away.

Tim: There was maybe a part of him that honestly did think that Leech would pair the two up, just to get at Timothy, so there’s definitely a wave of relief that washes over Tim’s form, reassured by Leech’s answer. Not letting his eyes linger on him for too long, Tim redirects his attention to his guitar, fluidly moving from one song to another, but not paying enough attention to perfect it all. He shrugs a shoulder, and presses his cheekbone into it briefly. “I’m not sure. Maybe. I haven’t really spoken to him in a week or so.” It’s been longer than that, which is unheard of, but Tim’s been on a trip, and in isolation, so it’s not as if he could communicate with the boy. Jesse’s been doing a good job of keeping Lars informed, though - and the older boy is growing more and more concerned.

Leech: Leech might be cruel, but he's not that cruel. Not today, at least. He makes a noise of acknowledgment, distracted for the moment by leaning close to the guitar and listening to the A string, but then straightens up and looks at Timothy, straight-on for a change. "They decided they're not gunna let him take you to yer appointments, by the way; too much escape risk, I guess, given yer history." Though Timothy hasn't actually tried to escape the school since first year, his recent jaunt with Ness apparently brought the habit back to everyone's mind.

Tim: After saying it, Tim feels that familiar guilty feeling he often gets with Jesse, feeling like he’s neglecting his friend that’s done nothing wrong. But he’s pulled away from that train of thought, immediately looking up at Leech and a bit surprised when he locks eyes with him. He instantly feels put on the spot, until those words are processed; then he just feels like shit, guilty for his most recent escape. He blinks a few times, quickly, and then looks back to his guitar, visibly weakened. “Oh…okay. So…does that mean you have to?” The way it’s said comes across more like Tim hopes not to be a burden, although there’s probably some fear of having to spend that drive with this boy again.

Leech: Leech looks back down at his own instrument after imparting that information, not wanting to see how it affects Timothy; neither does he apologize, because it wasn't solely his decision. He hums for the eventual question, ignoring how Timothy's blatantly depressed tone makes him feel. He doesn't know whether to say that Timothy can ask another teacher to do it, or that he'd prefer to do it (for whatever reason) and in the end just shrugs, stating calmly: "I'd planned on it." Removing the smoke from his mouth, he ashes it again.

Tim: Feeling more fidgety now, Tim pays extra attention to his guitar, trying to push everything else out and only leave room for even, stable emotions. Of course it fails, but he bites the inside of his cheek hard enough that his eyes don’t tear up. He can’t look at his teacher right now, so he doesn’t lift his face, talking a little more mumbled because he’s trying to control his emotions. “You don’t have to. I can ask someone else.” Someone like Snider, maybe. At least then the dude would just scold Tim the entire way, and Tim would sit there hating him, instead of wanting to curl up next to him.

Leech: Reminded abruptly of how Timothy is incapable of making decisions for himself, and how irritating that can be, Leech grits his teeth for a second or two, but it goes unnoticed since Timothy isn't looking at him, and the annoyance doesn't color Leech's tone at all. "I'll do it." Realizing that was somewhat terse, he adds: "I don' mind. The appointment's at eleven, so we can leave after yer second period class with plenty of time." At another time, Leech would have suggested leaving before classes - or even this evening. Appeased that the guitar is in tune, Leech turns the amp on low. Perhaps inspired by Timothy's playing, he starts playing what is recognizably (despite the lack of harmonica) All Along the Watchtower, though Dylan isn't one of his favorites.

Tim: Even if he were to have another staff member drive him, Tim knows it’d be way worse than making the trip with Leech; he’d have to hash out the details of his counseling, face the reality yet again that his parents gave him up. So Leech’s sharp answer does more to relax Tim’s shoulders than anything else could at the moment. It contrasts heavily to how anyone else would handle it - typically, that kind of response would make a student nervous, tense. Instead, it’s soothing for Tim, and he probably hates himself for that. Still looking down, he nods briefly, and switches his playing to go along with Leech’s. “…thanks—“

Before he can elaborate (which would’ve been ground breaking, surely - the boy has been quite brief in his conversation until now), the classroom door is opening, and a very annoyed looking Snider walks in. He peers around the classroom before spotting Leech, and then Tim. He instantly narrows his gaze on the boy, still so angry about his adventure with Michael in his car, and doesn’t introduce himself or greet with boy. Instead, he just snaps: “Armstrong. Curfew is in a few minutes. I suggest you get back to your dorm room, where you’re supposed to be when not in classes, remember?"

Leech: Leech lifts his head when the door opens, then suddenly snaps a string with unnecessary pressure when he spots who's coming in. The way Snider ignores his presence irritates him even more than the guy just showing up, and before Timothy has a chance to reply, Leech does so, sharply. "He's allowed the freedom of the building after classes so long as he's got a staff member's permission. I'm right fuckin' here. He's got permission." He sets his guitar in its stand and straightens up - slowly, to avoid aggravating his wound - to find some fresh strings, although he doesn't do so just yet; instead, he merely watches Snider with that flat reptilian gaze. "An' I'm perfectly aware when curfew is. You can safely trust Timothy's punctuality to me."

Tim: Not bothering with entering the room any more than this, Todd leans up against the door frame and crosses his arms, very visibly displeased with what he’s come across. He knows that Leech plays a bit of favoritism with students, specifically Kellen and Armstrong, and he hasn’t been at all pleased with the latter, lately. He looks a little ruffled when Leech snaps back, but doesn’t immediately back down from the man. “My apologies, Mister Harvey. I figured a man in your condition shouldn’t be tending to one of our most troublesome delinquents.” He eyes Tim, who is maybe hunkered down into himself more than he was when the door first opened, and shakes his head - annoyed with even having to see the boy. “I can escort Mister Armstrong back to his empty dorm room. Surely, we’ll be having a discussion with the headmaster about his living quarters. A boy with his behavior should certainly not be rewarded with a solo dorm room.”

Leech: Leech cocks his head to the side, squints an eye, just looking genuinely baffled by Snider's words. "I'm not tending to him - he doesn' require tending, he's jus' sitting there." He's obviously just as annoyed with seeing Snider as the man is with seeing Timothy. He doesn't know what Todd's trying to insinuate with those last statements, not being privy to Ness' punishment, but he can see it as an attempt to get under Timothy's skin, so he snorts derisively and starts across the room to where his strings are stowed in his desk. "Go away, Snider. I'll make sure he gets where he needs to be - after I finish briefing him on the appointment he's got tomorrow - wouldn' want you to risk it, since ya think he's so troublesome and delinquent." Turning his back on the other teacher with offensive unconcern, Leech pulls the desk drawer open and starts digging through it to find the string he needs.

Tim: Tim has remained rather motionless, keeping still in the hopes that maybe Snider won’t see him, or won’t pay him much attention. But of course, that isn’t the case, and the poor boy shrinks into himself as Snider snaps at him; he’s torn between staying here with Leech, and getting to his feet to follow after Todd with his head bowed. His head snaps up at the mention of his ‘solo dorm room’, and instantly Timothy looks to Leech, maybe not for clarification, but to maybe see how Leech responds to those words, and if there’s any indication that the parasite knows more.

“Sure, he’s sitting there now. Probably just plotting his next escape. And when that comes, a man in your condition very well can’t chase after him. He’s had lots of practice, remember?” Todd is practicing zero patience at this point, so he nods his head towards the hallway, voice a little more stern: “Come along, Armstrong.”

Leech: And as Snider's patience grows thin, as does Leech's. Finding the correct string, he throws a glance at Timothy - it neither confirms nor denies Snider's words about his solo dorm, but it does plainly tell him to stay where he is, because Leech just cannot lose an argument with Snider. Turning to lean against the desk and face the other staff member, Leech crosses his arms. "I'm discussing personal medical information with him, Snider. I gotta understand these things so I can understand his doctor's treatment reccomendations. He stays here until we've finished our conversation, which we can't do until you leave. Don't be afraid - he might outrun me, but we still got electric fences outside, he won't get nowhere. Might have a lot of practice trying to get away, but he only managed it once." These last sentences are laced with undeniable mockery, as if Leech really wants to put Todd's fears to rest. Straightening up again (and not in the least showing how much it strains his wound), he returns across the room, tossing the coiled string atop his amp, but not yet sitting down.

Tim: Rolling his eyes back to Leech’s form, Todd looks at his coworker like he’s absolutely bored of everything that he is saying. He allows the other man to speak uninterrupted, but proceeds in making very tired faces at him, as if he can’t wait for him to be done talking. Even with that fairly sound reasoning, he doesn’t seem to be wanting to back down, at all - and grits his teeth when Timothy doesn’t come to him. “Leech, this isn’t up for negotiations. You two were playing music, not talking. I’m sure whatever you need to discuss before Mister Armstrong’s appointment tomorrow can be talked about en route to the city. Armstrong, here.” The last bit is said as a very stern command - no room for negotiation - and Tim flinches slightly, quickly glances back to Leech but remaining still otherwise.

Leech: At Snider's tone, Leech's back goes tense, and he turns to face the other man better. His own voice is a touch quieter than previously, but even sharper, words carefully enunciated. "You're right - it isn't up for negotiation. It might be hard for someone like you to believe, but some people can talk and play guitar at the same time. Did you hear either one of us singing before you came in?" He pauses briefly to let that sink in, but doesn't give time for a response. "Timothy has anxiety issues, which you would've known if you'd been given the task of overseeing his case instead of me. He isn't very comfortable talking about his health; playing guitar while we discuss it helps him stay calm. While we could discuss it on the way to the city, it would mean arriving at the doctor's office with the kid in a panic attack. Sorta counterproductive. So - I will escort him back to his dorm. When we are done here."

Tim: Again, Snider appears to be completely unconvinced of Leech’s reasoning, and shifts his gaze from the parasite to Timothy. It’s a little bit of a bitch move, showcasing Snider breaking a bit under Leech’s stare, but his own glare doesn’t lessen up on the student. He stays quiet for a long moment, thinking, before finally answering: “I suppose a few extra minutes of socialization could be good for the boy. Not like he has anyone to talk with in his dorm. I expect to see you alert and enthusiastic at your first class period, Armstrong.” And with that, Snider rounds his way out of the room, paying no attention to Leech in the process.

Meanwhile, as the two teachers bicker, Tim remains on his stool. Having the guitar strapped around his shoulders, he’s able to let go of the instrument and redirect his hands elsewhere; one instinctively goes to the back of his neck, where he’s gripping and digging into his flesh with his fingertips, while the other is clutching his thigh tightly. He’s neatly organizing everything Snider said in his mind, but it’s cloudy right now, filled with confusion and fear and anger. Instead of talking, he just lowers his head further and moves his hand up to his scalp.

Leech: Not displaying the sense of triumph he feels when Snider gives in, Leech follows across the room to close the door behind him, locking it to prevent the asshole coming back after curfew to bitch again. The parasite returns to his amp, vaguely pleased with himself for scoring a point on the hippie, and only notices Timothy's downcast, almost cowering demeanor when he gets close. He doesn't really consider the barbed comments about Timothy's solitude, instead assuming that the discussion of his 'issues' might be what's making the boy look like he wants to curl up in his shell. He doesn't frown precisely, but looks at Timothy warily. "Sorry 'bout that, I jus' wanted to get rid of him."

Tim: Curled inward, Tim clamps his eyes shut, willing away whatever fears and emotions he has swirling around in his mind, chest, and gut. He’s not one hundred percent successful, but maybe does better than he would have a month ago, because he’s able to shake his head for Leech’s words and lift his head back up after a minute or so. The hand he had at his neck moves to rub at his face and is eventually met by the other, both palms digging into his eye sockets as Tim tries to take a careful breath. Without lowering his hands, he talks quietly, sounding more drained (if possible) than earlier. “…no, it’s fine. You don’t…you don’t have to apologize.” For as infrequently as the parasite apologizes, Tim thinks this is not the time for him to do so. “What did he mean, a solo dorm room? Am I being moved?”

Leech: Watching the kid, Leech's eyebrows furrow inward of their own accord and his fingers tap restlessly against his legs, wanting to do something to comfort him - at least, until those latter questions come, and remind Leech that it isn't embarrassment: Timothy is freaking out because of his roommate's uncertain punishment. Leech presses his lips together and looks away, taking up his guitar again to start removing the broken string. "I don' think so; I haven' heard anything about it. Mebbe he was talking about how...yer roommate is always in trouble."

Tim: Even with his palm digging into his eyes, Tim shakes his head, not believing that for a second. Mike has been in and out of their dorm all year with punishments, and Snider has never said anything like that before. Willing himself to calm down, and pressing whatever tears of exhaustion are behind his eyelids back into place, Tim’s eventually able to rub his hands up over his head and across his scalp, eventually lacing his fingers together and resting his conjoined hands on his neck. If Mike is permanently removed from his dorm, well, Tim won’t know what to do. After all, Tim did get permission to share Mike’s bed with him out of necessity - Timothy is unable to cope with nights spent alone. Trying to brave getting past the topic, Tim takes a careful breath. “How late will we be out, tomorrow?”

Leech: Leech keeps his head ducked, focusing on restringing his guitar rather than see Timothy's distress when he can't do anything about it - when knowing the cause for it irritates the hell out of him. He shakes his head briefly for that question, managing to sound even and unaffected when he responds, though it's a long way from the more friendly tones he was using prior to Snider's appearance. "Not sure. Hopefully it doesn' take as long as last time, but even if it does, I imagine we'll be back before they serve dinner."

Tim: Still with his arms crooked up, bent at the elbow and hands resting on his neck, Tim nods distractedly, a million and one things running through his mind. He certainly notes the change in tone from the parasite, but knows he has no right to question it, nor any footing to even be concerned. He takes a careful breath, a little shaky, and finally looks over at the parasite. Leech looks like he’s completely disengaged, focused on the guitar, and Tim accepts that - so he shifts around a little bit, detangling himself from his instrument. “I…should get back to my dorm, I guess.”

Leech: That tone of voice continues to annoy Leech, though not so much in itself - it's frustrating because he knows he can do nothing to make it go away. Abruptly he recalls Lars' request that Leech 'not try to be Timothy's friend', which makes him scowl at the tuning peg he's twisting, but he shoves it from his mind, and nods distantly at Timothy's words as he finishes winding the string tight. "Yeh, ya should. An' I should prolly go make sure Maddox hasn' completely destroyed my rooms." Setting his guitar back on its stand, he stands up as well, again with the slight flinch. "Do ya think you can make it without an escort? I can do stairs, now, but I'd rather not." Normally this might be said with a sort of jocular tone, but now it's just matter-of-fact, and he looks at the boy with only mild curiosity.

Tim: Once freed of the guitar, Tim slips off the stool and gets to his feet, placing the instrument back on its nearby stand carefully. Naturally, one hand returns to his neck, just gripping at his tightly, but the other drops to his side casually. Tim’s looking down at the ground, almost looks like he’s debating, but nothing comes of it. His head does lift quickly for the mention of Maddox, or rather the details, and without thought, he blurts out: “Oh, he’s staying with—“ Realizing what’s about to be said, and how much he doesn’t want to say it, Tim cuts himself off. He maybe doesn’t feel jealous right now, but he’s still curious about the relationship Leech has with the boy, and he has to actually shake his head to dismiss it all together. This takes more out of him than he thought possible, and he then drags himself towards the door, avoiding eye contact because this is just getting worse by the second. “Yeah, no…I’ll go straight back to my dorm.” Again, there’s a desire to help Leech, to maybe escort him back to his bed and curl up next to him, make sure he’s comfortable throughout the night. Tim swallows it down, tries to ignore it.

Leech: Leech cocks his head for that quick reaction and cut-off sentence, as if confused, though he knows Timothy well enough to guess that, from Leech's simple statement, the boy probably went straight to assuming that Maddox is sharing his bed. But he doesn't confirm it or address it at all, acting as if he had no idea what Timothy was going to say. "Try not to run into Snider, if ya can help it. I'll see you in the morning." He moves to tidy the papers he left on the piano into little bundles, just creating busy-work until Timothy makes his awkward way out of the door, before he also leaves, carefully locking the door behind himself and heading downstairs to company that's less stressful, if not strictly better.


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