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Jackie: After classes, prayer group, and dinner, most of the students have scampered off to do their own thing; Jade disappeared fairly quickly, with Mal not far behind, and with Mike still in isolation, Jesse has made it his own mission to single handedly keep Tim company. So the two boys take up residence in Tim’s dorm, both on the bed; Tim trying to lay there and relax, and Jesse trying to talk to him about anything and everything that isn’t about Mike or Lars or California. Naturally, this just means that Jesse is laying there, rambling about ghosts, with his head resting on Tim’s stomach.


Jay: Kellen himself had bailed after dinner to go downstairs and check on his brother, probably with similar intentions to Jesse's towards Tim. Leech's stab wound has healed to the extent that he can get around fairly well, thankfully, and since he's stuck with Maddox for company all day every day, Leech is actually very pleased to see Kellen, and the two engage in some brotherly bonding for a while, before Kellen heads back upstairs, mail for his dorm-mates in hand.

Reaching his own dorm, Kellen finds it empty and, hearing Jesse's voice from the other room, he makes his way through the bathroom. In Ness' absence, Kellen doesn't feel nearly so awkward around Tim as previously, so he's able to give both boys a small grin of greeting. He's got a medium-sized box from Jesse's mother, and tosses it to his roommate. "Here, Jess. From your mom. Tim, you got a letter from California." He hands the envelope over, then hooks the chair from Tim's desk to sit down.


Jackie: Picking up on the noises coming from his own dorm, Jesse is already halfway crooked up, looking towards the bathroom door and expecting to see Kellen. Almost immediately, he smiles at his room mate, but isn’t quick enough to gracefully catch the tossed package; instead, he fumbles it around, elbowing Tim in the gut in the process and making the older boy groan in slight pain. “Fuck yeah! I hope she sent me more gummies. I’m almost all out.” Sitting upright, he starts clawing at the packaging to get it open, too impatient to snag a pair of scissors from the nearby desk.

Tim, getting over the accidental abuse from his friend, rolls onto his side and blindly reaches for the offered letter. “Thanks, Kellen.”


Jay: Kellen grins for Jesse's impervious enthusiasm about everything, watching his struggles with that box. He might feel a tiny hint of jealousy, wishing his mother sent him things, but on second thought, she probably wouldn't send anything he'd appreciate, anyway. "Is she coming to Visitors' Day, this time around?"

He nods casually for Tim's gratitude, leaning back in his chair and stretching his arms over his head.


Jackie: It isn’t so much that Jesse’s mother wrapped the package with too much tape to make opening it impossible, than the boy is just way too scatter brained to be able to focus on one corner of tape to tear away. His struggles with the box don’t seem to upset him, though - he’s smiling widely when he looks over at Kellen, and shrugs a shoulder for the question. “I dunno - I doubt it. It’s a long flight, and I think I might visit her for spring break. Or something. Is your sister coming again?”

Taking the letter, Tim shifts enough on the bed to return to laying on his back, and he fingers along the envelope to open it cleanly. There’s no return address listed, so he can’t tell who it’s from, and there’s definitely a part of him that is dreading reading this - figuring it’s something to do with his parents.


Jay: Desisting into a more lax state, though still with his legs sprawled out across the floor, Kellen continues watching Jesse as he attempts to get into that box. His face sort of falls for Jesse's words. "Yer going away for Spring Break? I was totally counting on gettin' kicked out of another hotel with you." Then he shrugs, because he really has no plans for break as yet. "Yeh, I think she is. Said she might, anyway. I oughta call and remind her."


Jackie: Jesse chirps his laughter for that, finally tearing into the tape enough that he can unravel it and open the flaps of the box. “I think I am, at least. I wanna go surfing so bad, you have no idea. No idea.” Now that he’s able to look inside of the box, Jesse’s face contorts a bit, because there’s definitely something made of hideous yarn in here. “But that’d be cool, if she came. She seems nice.” Stopping prematurely, since there’s no way he can talk about Kellen’s sister without blushing, Jesse looks over at Tim and squints a bit at him. “Who’s the letter from?”

Tim, now tucked up against his pillows, seems to be fairly relaxed as he reads the letter - which is reassuring to Jesse. He glances over at the other boy for the question, but goes back to scanning the paper. “Matt. He says hi.”


Jay: Kellen cocks his head to the side some at the mention of surfing, humming thoughtfully. "Mebbe we could find a hotel in California to get kicked out of, instead." Even though Kellen's more used to the cold weather than are either of the others, he can't deny that some warmth would be welcome. Kellen sits forward to peer into the box, repressing a little grin for Jesse's words about his sister, because his obvious crush is pretty damn adorable. "What the hell is that? A tea-cozy?"


Jackie: Jesse absolutely lights up for the idea of Kellen in California, and he momentarily forgets about his box and looks over at his room mate with big, wide eyes. “There are plenty of hotels to get kicked out of! You should come to California! We could go surfing, and to the boardwalk, and eat the best freaking frozen custard in the world—“ But before he can detail, Tim cuts in:

“Actually, Jess…Matt said that the custard place closed up. Must’ve gone out of business now that you’re not there to visit two times a day.” And for this, Jesse turns to look back at Tim, absolutely crestfallen.

“Are you serious? That place has been there since forever!” For this, Tim just shrugs, so Jesse goes back to his box, wrinkling his nose for the horrible, horrible knitted scarf inside (even if he secretly thinks it’s fantastic). “…it’s a scarf, I think. Maybe?”


Jay: Catching Jesse's enthusiasm, Kellen grins more widely. "Mebbe we could even get kicked outta several hotels. Like, beat the world record." Who knows if there actually is a world record. He doesn't seem too concerned about the frozen custard place, cocking his head to the opposite side this time and eyeing up that scarf. "Ahh. Well, that'll come in handy. That scarf Mal made for my birthday is incredible, I have no idea how I lived without it." Sitting back again, he looks curiously to Tim. "I think Lars mentioned Matt to me. If it was the same Matt. Said he puked in his lap once."


Jackie: Tugging the scarf out of the box, a few pieces of candy fall from it - a sign that the bottom of the box is indeed layered with sweets. The scarf is fairly heavy, thick and ideal for these harsh winters, and Jesse almost immediately starts wrapping it around his neck. He ignores the little tightening in his gut that comes from the mention of Mal, and instead focuses on the conversation. “We could so set the record.”

Finishing the letter, which was actually two pages long, Tim glances over the papers again to look at Kellen, and doesn’t have to force his own half grin as much as he normally does. “Yeah, same Matt. He’s a good guy. Didn’t even punch Lars that night."


Jay: Kellen nods strongly in agreement, possibly already planning ways to get kicked out of various hotels, but Tim's words distract him briefly and cause him to laugh. "Yeh, it sounded like he's an awesome dude."

Unexpectedly, the door to the dorm room opens and Michael makes his way in, moving maybe a little slower than usual. But that's hard to notice, since he stops as soon as he's inside the room, looking between the other three boys uncertainly. Any trace of amusement fades from Kellen's face as soon as he turns to see who has arrived, but he doesn't look away. For such a generally upbeat kid, Kellen's angry face is remarkably foreboding, though that anger is most visible in his eyes which are, for the moment, a dark blue. Mike only meets that gaze for a second, much more concerned with Tim's reaction to his appearance, and he turns to watch his roommate almost warily.


Jackie: Before Tim can respond, the door to his dorm opens, and his eyes immediately snap in that direction. He half expects to find a staff member doing routine checks, or Tony coming in to be annoying. But instead, he’s met with a very beat up looking Michael, and his face drops. Shifting up, his eyes widen a bit as he takes a look over his room mate, but it’s Jesse that speaks up first.

“…holy crap, Mike! Are you okay?"


Jay: Mike's attention is jerked to Jesse with that outburst, and he smiles faintly at the kid, somewhat reassured. "No, I'm a'ight." Finishing the motion of closing the door, Michael moves across to his side of the room, managing to make the action casual and unimpaired despite whatever wounds his clothes might be concealing, and the more obvious brace on his wrist.

Kellen does not look at Jesse when his roommate speaks, but he flinches, shoulders twitching, and he follows Ness' progress across the room with narrowed eyes. But when the older boy replies, Kellen stands up abruptly. He knows better than to start some sort of scene now, despite how much he wants to punch Ness' face in, so instead he just paces wordlessly through the bathroom to his own dorm, closing that bathroom door with more force than necessary. Mike glances at his back as he leaves, but doesn't look too surprised, and doesn't appear to care very much.


Jackie: Since Kellen and Tim seem to be frozen in place, Jesse makes up for their silent responses, and he scampers up off the bed to instead crowd around his friend and take a closer look at him. “You look like you got hit by a semi truck. Are you sure you’re okay? Did they let you out or did you escape?” Of course, all of this questioning comes with wide, innocent eyes, but Jesse is careful not to touch, since he kind of feels like he might break the boy if he did.

Kellen’s storming out isn’t all that surprising, especially not to Tim, and the older boy watches his dorm mate stomp out with a very guarded look on his own face. After the door is slammed shut, Tim flinches and eventually drags his eyes back to Michael, but doesn’t move off the bed quite yet.


Jay: Mike drops onto his own bed, continuing to dart quick, assessing glances at Tim as he continues to converse with Jesse. "Thanks, you look great, too. I'm fine, I promise. Been worse off before." The sarcasm's heavy in his first statement, and he rubs at his face with both hands, as if that will improve his appearance. "No, they let me out...kinda. You got a cigarette, maybe?" Because it's really been way too fucking long since he was allowed to smoke.


Jackie: It isn’t until the bathroom door rattles shut that Jesse notices it was Kellen to bolt out, but he has enough presence of mind to not say anything - it’s obvious, at least to two of the boys in the room, why Kellen doesn’t want to be around Ness. He’s a little reassured by Michael’s sarcasm, and kind of smiles a bit for it, but his face falls a bit when that request comes. “Oh…I…I don’t. But um—“ He glances back over to Tim, who meets his eyes and finally spurs into action. Slowly, Tim drags himself off the bed and heads to his closet, where he can retrieve his own pack of cigarettes since Jesse isn’t a regular smoker. It takes a moment of shuffling around, but eventually Tim finds his hidden pack, and he comes back towards Mike’s half of the room with his eyes scanning over the boy’s form, taking in the bruises and that very damning brace. Approaching the bed, he offers out a cigarette for Mike to take with his mouth wordlessly.


Jay: Mike might not know the whole story, but he's got enough suspicions that Kellen's disappearance doesn't surprise him; he's mostly happy that no one else stomped out of the room along with him. Now that Tim is moving, Mike doesn't feel too bad about watching him walk across the room, looking him over. He might be a little beat up, himself, and just generally exhausted, but it doesn't escape him that Tim isn't looking very good, either, and a small pool of guilt starts to collect in his stomach. Taking that cigarette, he nods in appreciation as he lights it, speaking only after the first drag. "Thanks, kitten." The pet name comes out without thought, but he doesn't retract it, only glances back at Jesse. "Did I miss anything exciting?"


Jackie: Almost immediately after the cigarette is taken, Tim takes a seat on the bed next to Mike, leaving no room in between them and no question as to whether or not his concern is strictly that of friendship. His eyes haven’t stopped scanning over Mike’s form, probably too hesitant to settle on the boy’s eyes, and he’s making a mental list of the injuries so he knows where to keep an eye on things. Jesse, still standing a few feet away, watches the door a little awkwardly, and glances back towards his own dorm, thinking maybe he should be checking on Kellen. But that question draws him back, and since he’s oblivious as all hell, he answers it: “No, nothing exciting. Someone in the chemistry classroom accidentally started a chemical fire, so the hall still kinda smells funny—“

Before he can continue, Tim reaches over wordlessly and very carefully grabs at Mike’s forearm, to inspect the brace covering his wrist. “Is it broken?”


Jay: Some inner tension relaxes when Tim takes a seat next to him, and Michael leans towards him slightly, looking back at Jesse with some interest. He nods for the kid's words, really paying more attention to the blessed nicotine, but at least he appears observant. When Tim takes his arm, Mike glances at the appendage like it's just a thing, not really a part of his body. "Nah. Sprained, I guess; lucky he didn't break it, after what happened to Lovato's fingers, but..." He almost says that Leech was too distracted to be breaking bones, at the time, but he doesn't even want to go near the subject of that fight, so he veers off and takes another drag instead. "It's not too bad, really." As proof, he rotates his hand around on his wrist, concealing any twinge of pain the action causes.


Jackie: Just as soon as Tim talks, Jesse shuts up, and remains standing there awkwardly, not unlike a deer caught in headlights. He, too, squints some at Mike’s wrist, not entirely buying that the bones aren’t broken, but not about to argue or question against it. Similarly, Tim finally glances up at Mike’s eyes, maybe to try to read him better, and even if the boy is trying not to look like he’s in pain, it’s obvious that he is. Moving his hand to one of Mike’s thighs to rest there comfortably, Tim’s eyes again move away to scan over his form, trying to see underneath the clothing where he knows more injuries exist. “What else.”

And with that, Jesse finally takes a cue, and silently moves out of the bedroom, going back through the bathroom and into his own dorm.


Jay: Really not pleased with being the center of attention when that attention is pity (or, more likely, sympathy, but Mike never sees it that way), he motions dismissively with a hand, waiting to exhale smoke before he can reply. "Just a few scrapes and bruises from the fight, and...y'know. The usual punishment bullshit." He doesn't bother to elaborate on that, doesn't point out that he almost wishes it had been the usual punishment bullshit, because apparently Leech's skill with a whip is to be preferred to the priest who stood in this time. To deflect, he lifts his free hand to Tim's chin and tilts his head up, catching his eyes. "What about you, sugar? You look exhausted." He doesn't even really notice Jesse's quiet little exit.


Jay: Kellen, meanwhile, only made a short pitstop in his own dorm room. He can still hear Ness' voice there, so instead of lingering, he grabs a few necessities and heads out. His first choice would usually to be to go to Leech, but that wouldn't do anything for his anger right now, so he instead hits the staircase and goes up to the little storage room above the roof, which he's made into something of a clubhouse.


Jackie: Tim knows better than to believe that, or at least doesn’t believe it to be as casual as Mike is making it out to be; his movements alone were proof enough that he’s endured a punishment much harsher than anything in the past. He initially presses down into that touch, cradling his cheek into it, but eventually - and gently - pushes it away, because he’s not quite as messed up as he believes Mike to be. Not physically, at least. He shakes his head gently. “I’m fine. You want a shower? Comfy clothes?”


Jackie: Having snuck back into his dorm, Jesse is a little confused when he finds the room empty - so much that he actually pauses in the middle of it and peers around, mentally calculating where his room mate ventured off to. He exits his dorm before he decides where to check first, but when he thinks about Kellen’s normal hide out, Jesse has no doubt that where he’ll find him. He makes it to the small storage room a few minutes later, and starts talking even before he’s finished climbing the ladder. “You all right, Kell?"


Jay: Though he doesn't at all believe Tim is fine, Mike doesn't say so - instead, he just arches an eyebrow ridiculously high, as if to point out that if Tim can ignore his mental and physical problems, Mike can, too. "No, I don't." Instead, he leans towards Tim more, his injured right arm going around the other boy's back, lowering his head to press a kiss against the side of that neck and then resting his forehead on a shoulder, taking a deep breath.


Jay: By the time Jesse arrives, Kellen has ceased hitting things and has moved on to smoking a cigarette, perched in one of the deep windowsills and staring out at the grounds. He flinches a little at the sound of the trap door being open, but he doesn't bother to look, pretty certain he knows who it is. Not giving the obvious answer to that query, he speaks without turning around, his voice unusually subdued. "Watch out for the glass." True to his words, the floor not far from the trap door is covered with shards of multi-colored glass, emanating in a spray pattern from the broken decorative lamp crunched against the far wall.


Jackie: Tim probably notices that eyebrow, and definitely knows what he means, but he’s an excellent escape artist, and dodges having to answer to it. He, too, leans in closer, and the other boy’s scent alone makes his own back muscles relax the tiniest bit. He hums quietly for Mike’s short answer, kind of expecting it, and turns more into his form, mind entirely focused on this boy, as bruised up and damaged as he is. He nuzzles his head down towards Michael’s and gently squeezes the boy’s thigh, knowing better than to wrap an arm around his back right now. “You’re sure you’re okay?"


Jackie: Still crawling up the ladder, Jesse makes a noise of confusion when he hears that warning, which eventually turns into a sound of understanding when he finally gets to the landing and locates the broken glass. It takes him a moment to piece it all together, and he isn’t as surprised as he maybe should be. Still, he stays where he is for the moment and looks over at Kellen, tilting his head like an adorably confused puppy. “You okay?"


Jay: Mike keeps his head resting against Tim's shoulder, feeling more tension release the longer he stays there, but he can't help sighing for the repeated question. He squeezes Tim's opposite hip slightly. "Stop asking." Straightening up, he takes the last couple of drags from that cigarette and leans to the side, nudging the window open enough to flick the butt out. Then, of course, he leans immediately back towards Tim. "If you'd asked me a week ago, I probably would'a had a different answer, but really I'm okay. Just missed you."


Jay: Kellen half-glances back at Jesse over his shoulder, not entirely turning around because that would be giving away the angry tear-tracks on his face, just giving a tense little shrug and swallowing harshly. "I just couldn' stay there." He curls his leg up to his chest more closely, resting his chin on it and leaving enough room for Jesse to sit down, if he wants to.


Jackie: That initial answer doesn’t do anything to help ease Tim’s mind, since it sounds more like Mike just doesn’t want to talk about it (not that Tim blames him) as opposed to him actually, legitimately being okay. When Michael continues, Tim decides to leave it be, having known how frustrating it is to be prodded for an answer that you’re so reluctant to say out loud. He shifts around to get more comfortably tucked into Mike’s form without pressing in too sharply, and goes to hide his face into the crook of Michael’s neck where it’s relatively safe. “Missed you, too. Haven’t been able to sleep without you.” A rare, rare admission from the boy, but it’s hard not to unravel the tiniest bit right now.


Jackie: Jesse remains near that broken lamp for a few seconds longer, warily eying his room mate since it’s such a rare occurrence that the boy is anything than manically happy or blissfully stoned. “That’s…understandable.” He doesn’t come to Mike’s defense, since there isn’t really one there to begin with, so Jesse cautiously steps forward, one hand moving to hold onto the opposite wrist, looking awkward as all hell. “You wanna talk about it?"


Jay: Pleased that Tim doesn't press for any more reassurance, Mike hums and wraps the opposite arm around the slighter boy, tugging him closer and pretty much into his lap, despite the way the action pulls on the welts across his back. The next words make him sigh a little, but not happily. "Yeah, I'm...I'm sorry about that." More than sorry, really, and he hesitates, really not wanting to go into the next thing. He tightens the arms around Tim, maybe gathering his courage, or maybe just preventing him from moving. "They're making me move to a single for a while. One of the ones upstairs, you know, I guess they got video monitoring and shit..."


Jay: Covertly, Kellen rubs his cheeks against that upraised knee to try to remove any traces of crying, although his eyeliner remains more smudged than usual, unbeknownst to him. He nods some for Jesse's words, thoughtlessly, and even with as angry as he is, the uncertainty in Jesse's voice gets to him. So he turns away from the window to face his roommate better, but he only gives him a quick glance before he goes to staring at the toes of his shoes. "I sorta hoped they'd expel him. Send him back to juvie. Leech told me the headmaster was considering it, but that was a week ago..."


Jackie: The expanded embrace tugs Timothy in closer, and on his own accord he shifts himself around a bit, now practically straddling Mike’s lap, but making no advances. Instead, there’s simple comfort in being next to this boy again. He closes his eyes and burrows further into that neck, feeling its warmth, but his body becomes still when Mike starts talking again. He almost speaks up, to tell him not to apologize, but is stopped when the older boy continues. And of course this comes as a bit of a surprise to Tim - he’d never really considered the fact that Mike would be moved out - but he doesn’t pull back to meet his eyes. Instead, he just remains where he is, defeated. “…it’s not gonna be just for a while.”


Jackie: Stepping even closer to his room mate, Jesse finally makes it to that window sill, but he doesn’t take a seat. Instead, he hovers closer to where Kellen is curled into himself, and despite the boy’s attempts to hide it, Jesse can tell he’s been crying. Which just makes everything even worse, because Jesse can’t handle emotions other than happiness, unless of course it’s with Tim - and even then, he typically just cuddles the boy until he thinks he’s made a difference. He gnaws on his lip and kind of shifts his weight awkwardly. “Kinda surprised they didn’t, truth be told. Maybe…they still will. Put him in a different school."


Jay: Mike can feel Tim freeze when his words penetrate and inwardly curses, but doesn't outwardly show any of his own rage. "It's not? 's news to me." He tries to sound relatively mild, too tired, really, to be pissed off about it anymore, and in any case not wanting to waste his time with Tim. So he just burrows in a little closer, face pressing against the other boy's neck.


Jay: Kellen sideglances at Jesse without lifting his head when the boy gets nearer, but scowls some for his words and shakes his head. "They woulda already done it, if they were going to. Unless he stabs someone else, mebbe." He doesn't sound very doubtful of that happening, because obviously Ness is capable of anything. Playing the cigarette between his fingers idly, he resorts to gnawing on his lower lip instead. "I really don't think I can be around him at all."


Jackie: Still keeping his face hidden in Mike’s neck, Tim makes a quiet noise, disagreeing. “I’d figure as much, at least. Not like they want us rooming together anytime soon.” Not with their not-so-long-ago mini vacation, and obvious tom foolery. For that realization, Tim squirms in a little closer, and places a soft kiss to the pulse point just beneath Mike’s jaw.

Still hovering near Kellen and that window sill, Jesse shifts his weight a bit and looks at his room mate uncertainly; he’s not at all used to seeing Kellen anything other than ridiculously manic, or ridiculously stoned - so this is a bit of uncharted territory. Coupled with the fact that he himself hasn’t completely written Michael off, and the poor kid is just a bundle of uncertainty. “Well…that makes sense. Maybe they’ll keep him in another dorm entirely…or you could go somewhere else…"


Jay: Michael makes a sort of noncommittal noise in his throat, not bothering to unbury his face, and seeming content to just stay where he is although he ought to be packing for the relocation. After a moment, he sighs. "I'm sorry, I'm really fuckin this up, aren't I? First, we finally get shit sort of figured out, then we're both immediately put in isolation rooms and watched constantly for weeks. Then we're starting to get past that, and I..." He trails off with a little groan, shaking his head but still not lifting it.


Jay: Kellen himself isn't much used to being anything but ridiculously manic or ridiculously stoned, at least, not since he came to the school. This frustrated anger and lurking discontent is more like what he coped with while living with his father. "Mebbe." He sounds somewhat doubtful, understandably, but he's trying not to speak too harshly, knowing that Jesse couldn't side with him against Ness, given his and Tim's relationship. "I jus' can't stop remembering Leech getting stitched up. He was crying, Jesse, tears pouring down his face, but not making a sound 'cuz he couldn't get enough breath for it. I had to hold him down so he wouldn't squirm away and he was shaking the whole time. Kept hoping he'd jus' pass out, but he didn't, not til the stitches were done."
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