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Jay: Having been let out of his science class early (which isn't an uncommon occurrence; the professor often gets exasperated with his students and sends them off, much like Leech), Kellen made his way to the guitar room where a drama class is rehearsing, and watched the remainder of the performance until the bell rings. Then, since Mal is already there and there's a few minutes between classes, they end up occupying the space just off the little stage, but not quite backstage, still visible in the wing. And that's where they remain as students for Leech's guitar class start to trickle in, Kellen against the wall and Malachi stretched against him, attached at the mouth with no sign of consciousness that they're not longer alone.

Jackie: Since his guitar class is the smallest class in his schedule, Jesse doesn’t come streaming into the classroom with a mass of other students. He comes rolling in with his guitar strapped across his chest, bouncing in his form because it’s the end of the day and a class he shares with Kellen. Upon entering, his eyes immediately scan around - figuring he’d spot Kellen in here, since the boy is usually here early to jam with Leech, or catch up with Mal. As it turns out, he’s wrapped up in the latter, and Jesse doesn’t catch the two until he’s already talking. “Kell, you here yet? Dude some kid accidentally blew up their experiment in the chemistry lab and there’s like, fire extinguisher residue EVERYWHERE—“ As he turns around in his steps, he catches the two boys off to the side, and he freezes, looking like a deer caught in headlights. “Oh! Oh - uh—“ and because the only logical thing to do is to look away, Jesse turns back around and stalks back to his seat so he can pretend he didn’t see anything.

Jay: Distracted as he is, Kellen does catch the sound of Jesse's voice, if not the words. It's his roommate's typical excited and amused tone, so Kellen figures whatever it is he's talking about can wait until start of the class when he's forced to detach; for now, he just twists his hands in the material of Mal's shirt to keep him close, repositioning his mouth a bit, which draws a quiet, pleased noise from the older boy.

Michael is only a few steps behind Jesse, entering the room just in time to see the boy's reaction to the sight. He follows Jesse's line of sight and gives a brief laugh, then turns away to take his own seat, one over from Jesse. He's cautious in sitting down, still sore from his punishments, but tries to make it look fluid (probably tired of being asked if he's all right) and nods in greeting to Jesse.

Jackie: Jesse gets back to his seat but just stands there, looking down at the ground like he’s very confused, and startled, and maybe even a little embarrassed. At least there’s a new distraction in the form of another classmate, and when Jesse looks up at Michael, it’s with wide eyes and a faint blush on his cheeks. He chalks up his own laughter after the older boy voices his, and then he comes a little back to life and works his guitar off of his form. “Guess that’s one way to pass the time between classes. How’s it going?"

Jay: Mike eyes Jesse a little speculatively when he notices that embarrassment, wondering at its source. He nods agreeably, throwing another quick glance at Malachi and Kellen. "Yeah, one of the best ways." He sets his own guitar upright between his knees and takes the brace off his right wrist, rolling his hand around experimentally: there's a twinge of pain, but nothing too bad. "Oh, it's going. Pretty fuckin' boring, though, being in a room all by myself all the time. At least in isolation I wasn't watched constantly."

While Mike and Jesse converse, Hollywood enter silently and takes the chair next to his partner. If he notices the exhibition going on at the back of the room, he doesn't say anything of it, or watch for more than a second.

Jackie: Jesse only wrinkles his nose for that thought, which is strange for him - typically he’s quip back with some comment about Tim, and waggle his eyebrows suggestively. But instead he shakes his head and works his own guitar out of its case, also taking a seat and trying to occupy himself. He very much welcomes a change in topic. “They have you out in classes now, though. That’s a big improvement. Miss having you around, though. It’s so quiet now.”

Not far behind Hollywood is Jade, who very uncharacteristically is early for class. He slinks in towards his chair and glances at the two boys going at it, and rolls his eyes before taking a seat. “That’s fucking disgusting.” It’s not said directly to anyone, more like a general comment, and the boy doesn’t look the least bit concerned with it.

Jay: Mike might notice how quickly Jesse latches onto the change of topic, but he keeps it to himself, smirking and lifting an eyebrow. "Quiet? With you around? I doubt that." He lifts his guitar to check the tuning, since it's been a while since he could play, asking Jesse like it just occurred to him: "Is this the last class we have before performing? Or is Visitors Day next week?"

Jackie: Glancing up at Jade, Jesse gives the boy a smile that isn’t really returned, but the younger boy doesn’t seem too damaged by that - it’s typical behavior from Jade. He transitions that smile to Mike, as if to say thank you for that comment even if it wasn’t meant as a compliment. “Quieter, at least. There’s no one there to yell at Kellen and I anymore.” Which has become a bit of a tradition, with how much they tormented Mike and Tim on their romance, or harassed the boys with silly pranks.

Tony, in his typical air of uselessness, walks into the classroom with a displeased look on his face, perhaps for the showing taking place off stage, or the fact that Tim isn’t here yet. Either way, he hears Mike’s question and answers it before anyone else can. “If you’d pay attention more, you’d know that this is the last class before the big performance. It’s hard to grasp, I know.”

Jay: "That is sad. I'll have to come down once a day just to yell at you." Although he's really been avoiding Kellen since he was released, since the kid seems to hate him completely now. Before he can go on, there's a Tony, and all the amusement fades from Michael's visage. He doesn't bother pointing out that he couldn't pay attention, being locked up for a week, just gives the twerp a malevolent look. "You still here? Hasn't anyone murdered you yet?" The bell rings as if to emphasize his question, and Mike looks to the door, then at Jesse, plainly concerned about his own partner's absence.

Jackie: Jesse laughs briefly for that, one of those classic Jesse giggles that shakes his shoulders and helps remove any tension from them. But it’s ruined by Tony’s rude comment, and he rolls his eyes at the boy - easily the first person in his life that Jesse has grown to strongly dislike. The blonde seems completely unaffected, glancing back at Michael. “No, I don’t think anyone here has any desire to murder - or stab - me.”

Thankfully, the bell rings just after it’s said, and it serves as a good break for the brief conversation. Jesse glances around and back at Michael, confused as to where Tim is - even if lately the boy has been showing up this class at the very last minute. Any confusion and worry disappears when Tim rounds the corner into the classroom, and the older boy pauses in the doorway when he spots Michael. Not having talked to the boy much this week, it’s a huge relief just to see him, and eventually Tim gets back into gear and heads towards his seat.

Jay: Mike arches an eyebrow at that dubious statement, continuing to stare at Tony for long enough to make it plain that he's mistaken; at least one person has the desire to stab him. He's a little surprised Jade doesn't speak up, too - it's unlikely that Jade and Tony have become close friends in the short time Ness was away. Luckily he's distracted before he can make any outright threats, turning to look at Tim as he enters and smiling helplessly at the sight of him.

Kellen might throw a quick glance over the room at the sound of the bell, without entirely detaching himself, but since their teacher isn't apparent, he doesn't move towards his own chair. Likewise, Hollywood doesn't seem to expect Leech in a timely manner, but he sits up , nudging Jesse some. "Let's find a corner and practice. Just to make sure we've got it all down." Not that there's much doubt of that, but he still unfolds and carries his guitar to some amps set up near the door, away from the rest of the class.

Jackie: Eyes connecting with Mike’s, Tim visibly softens upon looking at him, and takes up his seat right next to his former room mate. He ignores the looks coming from Tony’s direction, and briefly wonders when the kid is going to give it up - Tim’s hardly spoken to the boy for a few weeks now, and it’s becoming more and more apparent to the student body that there’s something more concrete between himself and Mike. “You’re back.”

Maybe even more visibly pleased to see his friend, Jesse squirms in place and smile boldly at Tim, which is somewhat returned - a triumph in and of itself. Before he can demand Tim’s attention, Justin is coercing him away, and one quick look back to his room mate convinces Jesse to just go with it. So he snags his guitar from its case and trots after his partner. “YOU have it down, obviously. I still need to get better at the freaking chorus.”

Jay: "I'm back." Mike can't seem to stop smiling, though he does at least fight it back to a reasonable level. "And don't ask if I'm okay." Because there's really been too much of that. Leaning over, he bumps Tim's shoulder with his own, likewise ignoring Tony, and everything else.

"You can do it when you aren't thinking about it, though. Just don't try too hard." Justin doesn't bother to plug his guitar in, since they're not performing for an audience and have no need to be loud, but takes up one of the stools in the corner and waits for Jesse to do the same before counting off the beat and starting to play.

Jackie: Immediately after Mike confirms his presence, Tim starts to question whether he’s okay - he can only imagine the punishments he’s been receiving. But the older boy interrupts him before he can actually vocalize anything, so Tim just gives him a look that shows all the concern he’s been harboring for the past week. Thankfully, that shoulder bump helps to break off that tension, and Tim drops his head and sighs quietly, grateful, and bumps a shoulder back gently. “I won’t. But know that I’m thinking about it.” Because how could he not be.

“But then when I don’t think about it, I forget the chords or trip up my fingers and it’s just dumb. Maybe Leech won’t notice if I don’t plug in for the performance.” Doubtful, since their teacher has been hounding Jesse to practice, practice, practice all semester and is well aware of the boy’s challenges.

From the other side of the room, Tony finally gets his stupid bubblegum pink guitar out and calls out to Kellen, still in arms with Mal: “You done over there? We have practicing to do."

Jay: "It's hard to forget, when you're making that face." But it's said lightly, and Mike's still smiling, so it's doubtful he minds all that much. He might be about to go on, but the door opens and their perpetually tardy teacher enters, and Mike decides it's probably best to stay quiet. He's a little surprised that he wasn't kicked from guitar class entirely, but maybe since they only have this one class period left, Leech didn't think it worth the trouble.

Leech spots Jesse and Hollywood as soon as he enters, gives a faint nod of approval at their being productive. Then Lovato's voice impedes on his notice, making him glower a little. He glances at Lovato, then follows his line of sight - Kellen currently flipping Lovato off, but still locked to Malachi. Leech gives a faint sigh through his nose, muttering under his breath: "Fer fuck's sake..." Looking around, he steps over to snatch a spare guitar tuner from the top of the piano, the type you clip on the head of the guitar. Without much of a pause, he throws it at the pair wrapped around each other near the stage.

The tuner making contact with his fuzzy head finally forces Kellen to break away, and he looks affronted. Malachi, maybe more quick to spot the Leech, steps away hastily and tugs his shirt down, while the parasite glowers at both. "Both'a you stay behind after class." He jerks his head in something like a dismissal, and Kellen and Mal both scamper over to take seats near Jade and Tony, while Leech looks over the rest of the class.

Jackie: Tim opens his mouth to maybe negate that, or at least bring some justification on his end in, but he can’t think of anything to say. So he settles with a very pointed look, still with soft eyes, which he then trails down along Mike’s form to maybe try to gauge just how bad of shape the boy is in. There’s nothing too telling, save for some bruises along his wrist, but Tim knows better than to reach for him, or address them directly.

As Leech enters the room, and almost promptly starts throwing things, Jesse sits up a little straighter, attentive. He watches the tuner make contact with Kellen, and he kind of winces, but maybe doesn’t feel as much sympathy as he normally would - something he decides not to think about too much. Instead, he just looks at the two boys and then quickly diverts his attention back to his partner.

Jade, lounging back in his seat and fingering along his own fretboard, looks as if he hasn’t even noticed Tony’s presence, despite the boy’s attempt to join in on his playing, the blonde having taking a new seat next to him. All throughout Leech’s entrance, Jade’s eyes are lazily on him, and then he glances back at Malachi and Kellen. He snorts for the warning address giving to them, and looks back at his teacher pointedly. “That really a good idea? They’re just going to go back at it after the bell."

Jay: Glad he isn't the one getting yelled at, Mike watches the parasite warily, scanning his form like he's trying to see whether Leech is having much trouble getting around after their fight. If he is, he's hiding it pretty well, so Michael looks away so as not to draw attention to himself, catching the way Tim is watching him and giving a small, reassuring smile.

Having ascertained that everyone is present, Leech level his typical flat, empty gaze on Jade for those words, but doesn't respond directly, instead addresses the whole class. "Since ya only got this one class to get yourselves ready, an' since most of you are very far from ready, we're not gonna do rehearsals today. Follow Michaels' an' Freckleton's lead - split up an' work through all yer songs. You don't need to talk about anything that doesn't relate to what yer working on." With a final sweep of the eyes over the group, Leech moves (a little more slowly than usual) to the back of the room, to retrieve the tuner.

Once that's done with, Kellen answers Jade instead, leaning towards him conspiratorially. "He's just making us stay behind so he can join in, of course." Malachi's too used to Kellen's sense of humor to look shocked by this joke, but he does (lightly) smack him on the arm in reprimand. It's apparent to him that Leech isn't in a good mood, and he doesn't need more reason to get snippy. Kellen laughs at his expression, but gives in, retrieving his guitar and getting ready for another session of dealing with Tony. At least it'll be one of the last ones.

Jackie: That smile, although attempting to be reassuring, doesn’t work at all on Timothy; he continues to scan over the older boy slowly until the parasite address the class. Instead of looking at their teacher, Tim just busies himself with getting his guitar out of its soft case and fitting it into his lap, fingers immediately going to the pegs to fix its tuning. It’ll be a nice change to practice with Michael again, since the past week has had Tim hunkered down by himself, playing the same songs over and over again without any input from someone else.

Jade’s quiet plucking is more complicated than the songs that they are playing for the performance, so naturally Tony can hardly keep up. The blonde boy speaks up to address Kellen before Jade can, which promptly earns him a very blank, disapproving stare. “I don’t doubt it. Can you hurry up and join us? We all have to carry our own weight during this performance and the weaker links need all of the practice time they can get.” Clearly insinuating that Kellen, not himself, needs to get better at their chosen songs.

Jay: Mike also draws his instrument into his lap, but then glances over his shoulder at Tony's unceasing voice. Anyone would be hard-pressed to practice with that noise nearby, so he looks at Tim and motions with a jerk of his head towards some chairs set aside at the back of the room. He gets up, still moving more carefully than usual, and heads in that direction, maybe hoping to escape notice by distancing himself, as well.

Though Lovato is usually infuriating, Kellen is (not surprisingly) in a particularly buoyant mood this afternoon and that retort makes him laugh. "Well shit, Lovato, don't let me hold you up then. Go ahead and get practicing." Tired of this constant bickering, even though he's only occasionally in the class, Mal looks back at Leech. Noting the way the man is still glowering, he shifts in his seat, then speaks up as quietly as ever: "I'm going to make sure they don't need me in the office. If I can, I'll come back before the end of class; if not, perhaps we can practice all together this evening." Kellen just nods agreeably, so Mal stands up, not neglecting a little finger-wave at Jade, then scurries over to let Leech know why he's leaving - Leech grunts in acknowledgment - and heads out.

Jackie: Still adjusting his guitar’s tuning, Tim keeps his head down, not really up for looking too intently at Leech, even if they kind of cleared the air during their last field trip. It wasn’t much, and obviously things are still awkward, especially with Michael back in the classroom. When the boy suggests moving to a corner, more out of mind than out of sight, Tim immediately nods his head and gets to his feet, moving to the back of the room a few steps behind Mike. He speaks lowly, once they settle into their new seats: “You haven’t missed much here, obviously.”

Tony purses his lips and flips Kellen off for that comment, not at all amused. Jade glances between the two and then rolls his eyes, maybe not as amused with Kellen as he otherwise would be. “Tony, shut the fuck up.” Since this is said so often, Tony doesn’t take too much offense to it; but he does sigh exasperatedly and mutter something about being thankful this class is almost over. Jade only acknowledges Mal’s departure by tipping his chin up at him as he leaves, and then starts to work on one of their songs.

Jay: Michael smirks for Tim's words, echoing: "Obviously." He shakes his head, but catching Leech looking in their direction from the corner of his eye, he doesn't go on, instead starts in on Don't Think Twice. Following directions is probably the best way to make it through this class period in once piece.

Likewise, Kellen is so used to being flipped off that he hardly notices when Tony does it, merely snorting. It hasn't slipped his notice that he seems to be the only person in the room who isn't in a foul mood, but he doesn't let it ruin his own. Sitting back with his guitar now situated in his lap, he watches Lovato expectantly, waiting for him to start playing as well, because if just Jade and Kellen start playing Tony will never catch up.

Leech eyes that group of three, the most volatile in the room, checking for signs of explosion as he replaces the tuner and instead takes up a folder. Things seem relatively peaceful for now, so he makes his way to Freckleton and Michaels instead. He watches their playing critically, not interrupting, and again nodding his approval when they finish. "'Least the two'a you won't embarrass yourselves." Opening the folder, he looks at the contents briefly before going on. "No visitors fer either of you this time?" Hollywood shakes his head, unconcerned, probably glad not to have visitors.

Jackie: Not wanting to draw any attention to themselves either, Tim curls into himself and adjusts the guitar in his lap, working on the tuning once he’s comfortable. He lets Michael take the lead on the song, but then chimes in himself, not even bothering with singing along to where the lyrics fit in because the other boy’s voice is much better suited for singing.

Unlike Kellen, Jade doesn’t wait for Tony to catch up and surprisingly, it doesn’t take long for the blonde to pluck his way into the song. Of course, his guitar seems to be the only one out of tune and not entirely on pace, but the kid doesn’t drop the overly concentrated look from his face. On the other hand, Jade full on glares at the kid, not needing to look at his fretboard to keep playing, and then looks to Kellen when it’s time to sing - the younger kid always seems to enjoy vocals, way more than Jade himself and obviously more skilled than Lovato.

Opposite the trio, Jesse and Hollywood continue their song, even as Leech starts his rounds. Jesse peaks his tongue out of the side of his mouth as he concentrates and taps his foot along to the beat, and it doesn’t take long for him to appear to relax a bit - having been still wound up from seeing Kellen and Mal making out. He full on beams at Leech for the half-compliment, but shakes his head for the added question. “No, I don’t think so. Maybe Lars, but he’s probably listed as Tim’s visitor.”

Jay: Michael does sing, but not as loudly as usual, focusing more on the song - though he knows it well, it's been some time since he's played anything. He keeps one eye uncertainly roving over the class for a bit, but before long becomes absorbed by the music, focusing on that alone.

Even once both his partners are playing, Kellen doesn't immediately join in - instead he's watching Tony's playing, looking disconcerted and a little exasperated. He's entirely convinced that, no matter how congenial and helpful to Tony he and Jade had been, the kid still would have been a total disappointment. Rolling his eyes to himself, he finally starts playing; when Jade looks at him, he meets his eyes with an impatient look for their partner, but doesn't start singing because that might just confuse Lovato more. Unfortunately, that means Lovato tries to sing, and that makes his playing even worse. Kellen makes a noise of disgust in his throat.

Leech glances down at his folder at Jesse's words, nodding in agreement. "Yeh, he is. Someone called Freeman, too - another mutual friend, mebbe?" He doesn't really wait for a response before turning away, leaving them to continue their practice and approaching the trio near the center of the room without any marked enthusiasm.

Jackie: Not too far into the song, Tony’s strumming becomes so bad that he nearly snaps a string on his guitar, and that’s enough to break Jade’s composure. He stops playing immediately and sprawls an arm out in exasperation, voice mildly raised to the other boy. “I thought the entire point of this class was to improve your guitar playing? You’re still fucking up on the parts you fucked up on two weeks ago. Get it fucking together.”

Naturally, this only draws a more exasperated response from Tony, who also stops his playing an sits forward in his chair, cheeks already reddening. “Oh, shut up Jade. It was one mistake. Not my fault that the strings on this are strung in so tight! Maybe if we actually played a good song, and maybe if you two didn’t take the lead parts all of the time, we’d sound better!”

Again, Jesse visibly brightens for the mention of Tim’s guest, and even ruffles up at the mention of the additional visitor - Matt. “Matt? Matty’s coming! Holy crap, dude.” He looks over at Justin, as if the boy cares. “That’s the greatest thing, like, ever."

Jay: By the time Jade speaks up, Kellen is gritting his teeth to keep from letting his impatience spew out. He glowers at Tony for that failure of a repartee. "Who's fault is it, then? Someone else been stringing your guitar for you?" He doesn't address that latter comment since it's completely nonsensical. He might be about to go on, but he spies Leech standing a few yards away, behind Tony and Jade, and bites his tongue and takes a deep breath. "Look, I think it's pretty obvious we aren't going to have all three songs ready by this weekend. Let's jus...we'll drop the one I wrote and focus on the other two." Because as much as he hates Tony, Kellen doesn't want to look like a total fool onstage.

Justin doesn't precisely care, not knowing this person, but Jesse's grin is so infectious that he can't help smirking in return. "Excellent. Glad you have people who want to see you." He doesn't sound bitter about that; he doesn't get visitors, but there are none he particularly wants, anyway.

Jackie: “Shut up, Kellen. God, you never contribute anything useful, ever. Especially that dumb as rocks song you wrote. I don’t even know why we even bothered with trying to learn it in the first place. It’s freaking terrible.” Tony says all of this while he’s trying to get his fingers properly aligned on the fretboard, but the growing redness in his cheeks clearly shows how annoyed and bothered he is.

Jade, sitting back in his seat and looking like he’s ready to call it all quits, rolls his eyes at Lovato. “You’re the only one who can’t keep up.”

Jay: And here Kellen was, trying to be reasonable and patient. So much for that. He straightens up at Tony's words, eyebrows contracting and eyes narrowing into a glare. "Fuck off, Lovato! You think me and Jade like playin' these songs over and over while you try to master your pathetic dumbed-down rhythm parts? If that's what happens when you bother trying to learn something, I got no fuckin' idea what you're doin' in this class at all." He's still trying to keep his voice even and at a reasonable level, but not having all that much luck, and his east coast accent is coming out strongly.

Jackie: “You know what?!” Tony’s voice has raised at this point, and he shoves himself out of his seat and addresses his glaring to both Kellen and Jade. “I’m sick of this shit, from both of you!” As he moves to put his guitar back on the chair he was just sitting in, the head of it - most specifically, one of the tuning pegs - smacks into Kellen’s head, but the other boy can’t even be bothered to apologize, or even look like he’s sorry for it. Jade, not impresssed, simply moves his own guitar off of his form and stands up - being taller and lankier, he definitely looks like he could easily handle Tony. The look on his face certainly says so, at least.

Jay: "From us?" Kellen makes another noise of violent disgust at Tony's words, trying to duck his head out of the way of that guitar but not quite making it. The tiny spark of pain is enough to take his disgruntled anger to the next level, and he stands up quickly as well, not even bothering to remove his guitar - he only slides it around on its strap, so it hangs inverted against his back.

Before anyone can start throwing punches, Leech insinuates himself into the group, slipping through the gap between Kellen and Jade. "No. We're not doing this again." As usual, Leech's enunciation is clearer thanks to his own irritation, and he presses a hand to Kellen's chest to get him to back up, trying to defuse the situation before it gets worse, turning to face Lovato who is - if only by passive-aggression - undeniably the source of the problem. "Back off, Lovato."

Justin has been alerted to the altercation by the raised voices, but he's only watching disinterestedly, still playing without thought. Ness, on the other hand, has let his own playing fall off, still curled over his guitar but watching the three in the center of the room. He may not like Leech, but he's always glad to see Tony get harassed.

Jackie: “Yeah, from you-“ He points rudely at Kellen, and then at Jade. “And him. All semester long you two have been ganging up on me, and for what? It’s bullshit!”

Jade, still standing there, doesn’t look at all bothered - really, the only reason he stood up in the first place was because Tony did so - and he blinks at the other boy, clearly not impressed with the pointing or the accusations. He’s about to speak up, but Leech interrupts, and at this point Jesse has caught on to the arguing, and is perked up in his seat at the other end of the classroom, eyes a little wide in curiosity.

Huffing and puffing for Leech’s expected presence, Tony pushes his weight to one hip and flips a wrist, voice straining in his annoyance. “Oh, of course, here comes Leech to the rescue. Perfect time to play favorites, huh? Not like I can say I’m surprised.”

Jay: Leech's expression doesn't flicker for that accusation. "Back off, Lovato. I'm here to keep you from doing something more stupid than usual. You remember what happened last time you got in a fight? And the time before that? You wanna do that again?" He widens his eyes slightly to emphasize his point, not actually verbally referencing the lashes that any student found fighting recieves, but sure Lovato remembers them well enough.

Kellen reluctantly takes a few paces back at Leech's silent direction, but doesn't stray too far away - after all, the parasite is still injured, he might need help subduing the fucker. "For what? Because you're a self-centered delusional piece of shit! We've written whole new progressions that you should be able to play, but you can't even do that! Yer the most--" He breaks off at a quick glare from Leech, his teeth clicking together audibly as he shuts his jaw.

Unnoticed by most, Malachi slips back into the room but pauses not far inside the door, near Justin and Jesse, when he spots the cluster in the middle of the room. His lined eyes widen some, but all he says is a quiet "Oh..."

Jackie: Not unusually, Tony mostly ignores Leech’s warnings, which is a sharp contrast to every other student in the room - save for Hollywood, perhaps. At this point, even Tim looks up, but he most definitely isn’t looking at the parasite, and is staying quite still. Before Tony can vocalize more of his complaints, Kellen is mouthing back at him, and it’s enough to snap the older boy into action. He lunges forward and immediately collides into Leech, but paws and pushes his way against the teacher’s form in an attempt to get a few swings in at his guitar partner. “Fuck you, Kellen! :You’re: the piece of fucking shit!”

Despite still being in the semi circle of shouting people, Jade doesn’t do more than take a step back; although he’s formed a bit of a friendship with Kellen over the past few weeks, he isn’t one to stop a fight. He might even look a little bit amused.

Jay: Reflexively, Leech flinches when Lovato comes at him, raising his left forearm between them to keep the kid away from himself and, slightly more importantly, his wounded stomach. His first address isn't even to Lovato, just a terse, low-voiced "Kellen, don't." which is suitably timed, even though he can't see him, because Kellen is starting forward again at that provocation. With that handled, Leech uses his free hand to grasp Lovato's shoulder, pointy thumb digging into the sensitive joint harshly. Using this hold, he attempts to force the kid away towards the door, his voice raising past its usual calm level, though still not shouting, just intent. "Get out, Lovato. Leave my classroom now."

Like Jade, Hollywood is watching with amusement, his chin propped on his guitar's body. He glances at Malachi when he enters, muttering something along the lines of 'you're back just in time for the good part', which Mal doesn't react to - he's scampering away from the door that Leech is directing Lovato to.

Jackie: Just as fast as he’s going after Kellen, Tony is cowering into himself, Leech’s tight grip making half of his body curl into itself in pain. He makes a loud hissing noise and immediately backs off, but then attempts to kick around Leech and over to Kellen - which he isn’t very successful at. As his teacher starts to force him out and away, Tony makes it a little easier, heading towards the door on his own and trying to free himself from the parasite’s grip. “I’m out of here, Leech! I’ve had it! I’m talking to the Headmaster NOW.”

Still sitting quietly, Tim looks a little more at alert as the argument escalates, but he remains where he’s at. He quickly glances at Leech, but then focuses back in on Tony and Kellen, watching to see if any clenched fists make contact. Similarly, Jesse is zeroed in, but he looks more like a confused and slightly worried bunny, and redirects his fearful look to Malachi once the boy is further inside of the classroom.

Jay: Once the cretin starts for the door, Leech releases him quite voluntarily, but he does follow a few paces behind to make sure he doesn't cause any more trouble. At that threat, if threat it is, Leech only nods passively. "I was thinking the same thing, Lovato. It's become perfectly obvious you aren't competent enough to remain in this class. Tell Jefe I'll see him later." Though still tense while watching Lovato vacate the room, Kellen perks up immeasurably at the idea that he's leaving, though he doesn't celebrate just yet - it seems too good to be true.
Since there's apparently going to be no actual violence, Michael loses interest somewhat, but he does mutter a 'fucking finally' under his breath. Catching that look from Jesse, Mal only raises his eyebrows expressively and shrugs, because he's nearly as confused and worried as Jesse seems to be.

Jackie: For once, Tony does something mildly smart and stays quiet after Leech’s retort, stomping out of the room and down the hallway to find Jefe. The rest of the room falls silent, up until Mike’s quiet muttering, and Tim glances over at him as if to agree - but there’s still obvious tension in the classroom. Jade, having shifted his weight to the other hip and standing there passively, doesn’t bother with lowering his voice as he agrees with Michael: “Seriously.”

And now, with Lovato out and silence taking over, Jesse looks back over to Kellen, maybe to make sure that he wasn’t hurt, and then over to Leech since he’s the keeper of this class and no one else is saying anything.

Jay: Watching to be certain that Tony leaves, Leech turns around after a moment to look at Jade when he speaks. "Best get back to work. I'm sure ya need to practice a lot to manage yer performance without Lovato's vital input." Since it seems confirmed by those words, Kellen finally gives in and lets himself grin widely. He does as suggested, moving back to his previous place and taking up his guitar.

Still near Jesse and Hollywood, Malachi lets out a quiet sigh of relief, glad that it didn't come to anything worse. He smiles at Jesse, then moves over to join his partners. Michael makes a little noise of satisfaction and leans to the side, bumping Tim's shoulder gently with his own. Not having Tony around will undoubtedly make this class easier.

Jackie: Jade grins for that direction, although it’s not nearly as feral as Kellen’s - really, it just looks like an amused smirk, and the boy nods in understanding and takes his seat once more. Definitely, their performance will be much better without the uselessness of Tony, and from the sounds of it, perhaps the kid will never return to any guitar class, ever. Once Kellen is back in his seat, Jade starts on one of their songs, but the strumming is light and a little slower, clearly just relaxed playing while the room settles back into itself. “This just got a whole lot better.”

Also processing Leech’s words, and since the dude doesn’t seem too concerned about Kellen’s bump to the head, Jesse relaxes his shoulders some and gets back into place, talking lowly to Justin. “Is it me, or did Leech handle that a little :too: calmly?”

With Tony physically out of the room, Tim is able to let out a quiet sigh, because at least the idiot didn’t lash out on anyone else - including Leech. He’s stirred away from his subtle observation of the other boys by that bump, and he looks back over to Michael with soft eyes, and then moves to bump him back. “Really thought it’d be you and him that would lead to him getting kicked out."

Jay: Kellen takes up a spot atop his amp, letting Malachi take over his stool instead, somewhat unable to keep himself from grinning. "Fuck yeh, it did. An' now we don't have to resort to any of the plans we had to keep him offstage." He joins in with Jade's playing easily, since really, the two of them have had these songs down for a while now. "My lab partner in science class suggested feeding him castor oil."

Hollywood glances at Leech debatingly, giving a lazy shrug. "Maybe he's stoned." Not at all unlikely. Leech, meanwhile, is continuing his circuit over the room to watch each of the small groups.

Michael smirks at Tim's words, not disagreeing. "Nice to know you've got so much faith in me. Glad they saved me the trouble, though; I've spent enough time in that dungeon for a while." He falls silent as Leech approaches them, straightening up away from Tim. Leech doesn't precisely look at either of them, consulting his folder. "Timothy, I've got two visitors down fer you. Frederickson again, an' someone called Freeman. That right?"

Jackie: Once Kellen joins in on the playing, Jade picks up the pace a bit, getting back to the regular beat of the song. He snorts amusement for that suggestion, and leans back into his chair comfortably. They’ve been playing these songs for long enough, and he’s obviously well versed in them, that he can fall into relaxed positioning and not have it impact his playing. “Not a bad idea. Probably not hard to do, either. Tony’s a fucking idiot.”

Naturally, Mike’s response almost tugs a small smirk out of Tim, but it doesn’t quite surface. But he does chirp quietly, amused, but also agreeing - Michael has certainly seen his fair share of the basement, and with everything that has happened, Tim would prefer he not be down there, ever. He hasn’t picked up his playing yet, not when Leech arrives, so he scrambles a bit when the parasite addresses them, and similarly he doesn’t glance up to make eye contact. “Oh…yeah, Lars and Matt. That’s right."

Jay: Leech nods at that, making a mark on the page in the folder, then heads off to address Kellen's and Jade's visitors without so much as glancing in Ness' direction. Apparently avoidance is the order of the day. Mike doesn't seem bothered, but goes back to playing, which is continued for the rest of the class period. As the bell rings, he stands up to replace his guitar in its gig bag. Kellen does the same, standing and stretching and making ready to leave, until he's reminded by Leech that he and Malachi need to remain behind for their reprimand. He makes a face at that, but doesn't question it, just returning to his seat on the amp to wait until the class disperses.

Jackie: With the drama with Tony taking up a decent portion of the class period, it isn’t too long until the final bell rings, and the class is dismissed. Or, in typical Leech fashion, not dismissed by rather gestured away and out of his space. Jesse also makes a face for Kellen’s impending reprimand, but since the boy is occupied with Mal, he doesn’t bother trying to issue some comfort in the form of a sympathetic glance; he simply packs up his things and heads out alongside Hollywood.

Figuring that disappearing into the woodwork would probably be the best approach for the rest of the class period, Tim keeps close to Michael, but not suspiciously so. There’s a breath of relief when the bell rings, and Tim hauls his guitar back into its case and hoists it over a shoulder, stalling to wait for Michael before heading out. Since it’s their last class of the day, he heads up towards the stairwell that can lead them to their dorms, but goes at a slower pace so as to soak up as much time with Mike as possible; he doubts he’ll be able to join him in his dorm. “At least that’s over with.”

Jay: Carrying his guitar by his side rather than slinging it over his back in his usual fashion, Michael also moves slowly as he paces alongside Tim. That comment catches him a little off-guard, because aside from the instructor, guitar isn't one of the classes Michael has ever minded, and with Tony gone it would surely be much better. But he just nods agreeably. "Yeah. Probably the last guitar class I'll have here, too."

Jackie: The hallway is littered with students, all heading out to their dorms, or to the busses, or just :away: from the classrooms, so Tim occasionally has to duck around a few of them to avoid collision. While the guitar class was perhaps his favorite, it’s certainly been his most stressful over the past few weeks - even beyond his chemistry lab, or statistics class. He side glances over at Mike for that, and drops his voice a peg. “Might be a good thing, ya know?”

Jay: Mike gives a motion somewhere between a shrug and a nod, tilting his head to the side. "Yeah, it probably is. But it is one class I actually kinda like...if only someone else taught it." Not to mention, it's one class he can actually pass without much trouble. As they reach the stairs, Mike takes the opportunity of walking closer to Tim, reaching over to casually take his hand with his own.

Jackie: “Maybe they’ll open up another class for it. Tony’s bitched about it enough, and more students have been expressing interest…could happen.” It’s not too out there to think this might be a possibility; these specializes classes can’t have as many students in them as regular classes, and more students :have: been showing interest. Tim doubts it’ll happen, and with not having any optimism, he doesn’t try to sound any more convincing. Taking the stairs, Tim’s initially surprised when his hand is taken, but almost immediately he tightens his grip, and tugs the other boy in a little closer - covert in the smaller quarters of the stairwell.

Jay: Mike squeezes Tim's fingers with his own, looking over to give him a quick smile as they continue upwards with the flow of the other students. "Well, either way, it doesn't matter much. Not much time left in the year." Reaching the second floor, Mike starts down the hallway to his dorm - or, really, Tim's dorm now - without thought. But even once he realizes that what he's doing, he doesn't stop, figuring he can steal a few minutes of freedom while everyone is moving.

Jackie: Tim only hums in response, because there isn’t much more to add to it - and it’s definitely not something he wants to continue pondering over. So he makes his way down that hallway, not interrupting Michael’s progression as they reach Tim’s newly-single dorm room. Heading inside, Tim lets go of that hand in favor of detouring to the bathroom, but he’s in and out quickly - only going in to make sure the conjoining doors are shut. He also kicks the main door closed, obviously concerned about privacy, and turns to look back over at Mike. He raises his eyebrows, maybe a little lost with what they’re supposed to do now.

Jay: Michael follows after Tim into his ex-dorm, setting his guitar down on the unused bed. He follows Tim's actions with his eyes, one eyebrow quirking farther up his forehead with every door that's shut, waiting until Tim looks back at him and smiling faintly. "Seems like you've got an agenda." But he doesn't particularly seem to mind, extending a hand towards the other boy to draw him closer.

Jackie: Because he’s awkward, Tim stands in the middle of the room, still with that faint lost look on his face. With his guitar still strapped to his back, he can’t help the small exhale of breath that escapes for Mike’s assumption - clearly a little more relaxed around him than he is with the other boys - and he starts towards the other boy while working his instrument off of his form. “Just nice to have some privacy.” Which surely Michael can agree with. Once the guitar is off, and he’s a closer to the unused bed Mike’s standing near, Tim places it gentle alongside the other, careful not to make either one slip off and fall to the ground.

Jay: "Yeah, it is." The smile fades somewhat for that, undoubtedly thinking about how well-watched he is in his new room. But he forces that to the back of his mind, since he'll have to deal with it soon enough, and takes Tim's hand again to draw the other boy next to him as he sits on the edge of the bed. Once sitting down, that arm goes around Tim's back instead, and he leans into the other boy's form.

Jackie: Taking that hand, Tim doesn’t resist at all, and moves to the edge of the bed, perching on it until Michael settles down into it. Then Tim immediately scoots in closer, and he tips his head down to nuzzle into the other boy’s neck gently, his nose playing along the hairline there. “You doing okay?” Probably, Tim has been trying to not ask that for the entire day, but now that they’re alone, it’s harder to ignore.

Jay: Mike closes his eyes in appreciation for the closeness, making a humming noise of pleasure. For those words, he interrupts himself with a quiet snort. "I told you not to ask me that." He doesn't sound particularly irritated, though. Straightening up a little, though not moving away, he looks Tim over. "Besides, I probably ought to be asking you." He doesn't want to come right out and say Tim looks awful, but he does appear pretty run down, thinner than previously, and entirely lacking in energy, for which Mike can partially blame himself.

Jackie: For the brief, light hearted reprimand, Tim only pushes his face down into the crook of Mike’s neck harder, pressing his nose into the spot where it meets the boy’s neck. Shifting his own form, he works to face Michael a little more directly, both of his legs tucking into himself on top of the mattress. He can feel when he’s being a little more closely observed, but doesn’t pull back from his own hiding spot. Being an expert in deflection, he snorts and counters: “Didn’t answer my question.”

Jay: With Tim relocating, it's easier to wrap both arms around him, maneuvering a little to bring the boy into his lap. "Actually, I did. 'Are you okay' is the first thing Jesse asked me when I got out of isolation, and I think you asked me twice, or maybe three times, directly after him. Nothin's changed much since yesterday, I promise. Still a little beat up, a whole lot bored, but fine." Leaning forward, he rests his chin on one of Tim's shoulders, a hand moving lightly over his back.

Jackie: Tim takes a moment to consider all of that, and probably concedes into himself a little bit, because he’s surely been on the receiving end of that non-stop question, and it can be quite annoying. Still, most of his spare time as of late has been spent thinking and rethinking about this boy, and it’s only when he can physically see Michael that Tim feels any sort of reassurance. Rather than say that out loud, he simply nuzzles in further, pressing a soft kiss to the boy’s warm skin. “Didn’t answer it today.” He doesn’t expect a reply to that, and if he did he would only assume it’d be more of annoyance than anything else, so he adds on before they can continue: “It’s miserable in here without you.” As if for emphasis to his point, Tim gently slides his arms around the other boy’s hips, gently grazing along his lower back.

Jay: Michael can't help laughing for that retort, but it's quiet, breathy. "I just did." He hums again for that statement, feeling a minute stab of guilt. "I'm sorry. It's pretty miserable in there with me, too. 'least you got some distractions, people to talk to...even if it is just Jesse and ghosts." Those limbs drifting over his back cause him to tense up briefly, but when he's assured the touch is light he relaxes again. "I probably shouldn't stay away too long, speaking of which. But are you still planning to go with me over break?"

Jackie: Even if it’s subdued, that laugh makes a portion of Tim’s shoulders relax, and something beneath his sternum snaps. There’s guilt somewhere in his gut, because it’s obvious that Michael is the one dealing with more pain and solitude than anyone else. When the body beneath his tenses, Tim doesn’t automatically realize :why:, so he pulls his head back and blearily blinks his eyes back open, scanning Michael’s form as if he can see anything from beneath the layers of clothing. There’s concern in his face, but he doesn’t let it manifest too much - interrupted by that question. “Yeah, of course. If they still let us out of here, I mean.”

Jay: Also lifting his head from its resting spot when Tim leans back, Mike cocks an eyebrow at him in query for the movement. He shakes his head some for the reply, although sort of uplifted by the thoughtless affirmative. "They don't have a choice, I think. I mean, not that my dad gives a fuck, but parents probably wouldn't like being told their kid's been fucking up so much that they're busy being tortured and can't come for a visit. Anyway, I'll be eighteen then."

Jackie: “Ya think they’ll let me out, though? I mean, based on what happened last time, and it’s not like I have parents waiting for me that I can use as an excuse.” The last bit it said fairly neutral, maybe a sign of Tim’s acceptance over the entire ordeal - or just a side effect of his heavy doses of medication. Either way, he drops his gaze to where he’s relocation his hands: gently gripping at Mike’s hips, his thumbs brushing back and forth over a curve of bone. He adds on a touch lower: “We shouldn’t come back.”

Jay: "Well, but, I mean it's required. I think. If you want to go, if you got somewhere to go and the means to go, they have to let you." His eyebrows furrow some, like thinking is physically painful to him, but hopefully he got his point across. That quiet suggestion doesn't come as much of a surprise, but a small smile spreads across Mike's face for it. "I wouldn't be opposed to that."

Jackie: “Let’s hope so.” Because really, both of them sound like they are in desperate need of a vacation, or at least some time spent away from here. Having that time spent on a beach in California is certainly an added bonus. To gauge Mike’s reaction, Tim glances up in time to see that smile, and he can’t help the tiny, microscopic one that shows on his own face. “Didn’t think you would."

Jay: Michael nods in agreement, though he's quite decided that he's leaving, either way. He's had more than enough of this place for a while. "Well, shit, not like I can graduate this year anyway. Not much reason to come back." Though he should probably be heading back to his prison now, he remains, drawing out this free time to the limit. Leaning forward again, he presses his mouth to Tim's, lingering there with gentle pressure.

Jackie: There’s probably a part of Tim that knows he’ll return to the school, even if its just for Jesse’s sake. But he doesn’t acknowledge it, at least not right now, and it’s nice to think of an extended period of time in California warmth, away from everything that torments him here. Before he can give a reply, Mike’s mouth is pressing against his own, and naturally his first reaction is to kiss back. With their new separation, and lack of privacy, this is certainly something they’ve been missing for quite some time, and Tim isn’t about to interrupt that. Moving his jaw slightly, he applies pressure to the kiss, and closes his eyes in favor of savoring this.

Jay: Indeed, Jesse would be quite upset, they'll have to give that some consideration. Pleased with that response, Mike presses both hands flat against Tim's back to draw him in closer, tilting his head to the side to deepen the kiss. Undeniably, this is one of the things Mike has missed most while locked up in isolation, or now in his solo room, and he gives a quiet moan for the luxury.

Jackie: Guided by those hands, Tim squirms closer, spreading his own bent legs to better straddle Michael’s lap. The hands he has gripped to the other boy’s hips momentarily tighten, but he remembers to be careful and quickly loosens, one eventually drawing itself up to gently grab at the back of Mike’s neck. Matching that moan with one of his own, Tim again works his jaw and moves his mouth to cover Michael’s lower lip.

Jay: Again, Mike tenses at the tighter grip on his hips, and is glad when Tim loosens that hold after a moment, though obnoxiously the pressure on the wounds there reminds him of his punishment, and consequently the fact that he should not be here right now. Still, he doesn't pull away, keeping his arms locked around Tim's thin form and leaning into that kiss.

Jay: After guitar class, Leech had given Kellen and Malachi a 'stern' talk about appropriate affectionate behavior in classrooms between classes, which mostly just ended in Mal giggling uncontrollably and Kellen completely unable to breathe, especially since the parasite's serious and threatening demeanor never wavered during the speech. Kellen's still a bit out of breath and grinning when he reaches his dorm room and tosses his backpack onto the bed carelessly. He follows after it, collapsing in that unexpectedly graceful way of his, and grins more widely at the sight of his roommate.

Jackie: Since he wasn’t the one caught making out in the corner of the music room, Jesse has no reason to linger once the bell rings. He’s quick to exit, since the entire day was a little messed up - with Kellen and Mal going at it, and Tony getting kicked out, so he heads back to his dorm room on his own. He drops off his books and supplies on his desk and immediately sprawls out on his bed, not yet bothering with reaching for his ghost encyclopedia in favor of day dreaming up at the ceiling. At the sound of his room mate entering the room, he tilts his head to the side and gives a smile that thankfully doesn’t look too forced. “Where’s Mal?"

Jay: For the question, Kellen waves a hand vaguely. "Ahh, he had some homework to finish. God, you shoulda heard Leech going on at us." The mere thought of that rant makes Kellen snort with laughter again. "I know he didn' really care, but I guess he felt like he had to do something, since he has before with other dudes and their PDA." Leaning back, Kellen reaches for his nightstand and the little stash of weed there, then sits upright to start rolling a joint.

Jackie: It’s kind of odd, to Jesse, that his first instinct is to ask about Malachi, but he swallows down whatever feeling that creeps up when it’s confirmed that he won’t be joining them. He gives a brief little chuckle, and then moves both hands to his face and gently rubs at his features, tired. “Makes sense. He nearly snapped Mike’s neck in half when he kissed Tim before break."

Jay: The reminder of that incident makes some of the amusement fade from his expression, but Kellen shrugs dismissively. "Yeh, guess I should count getting a tuner thrown at my head and a lecture as gettin' off pretty easy, compared to that." Quickly finishing with his joint preparation, he pops up from his place and offers the joint and lighter to Jesse, taking a seat nearby on the edge of the other boy's desk. "But damn, I can't tell you how relieved I am to be rid of Lovato finally. I was sure we were gunna fail this semester cuz of his shitty performance."

Jackie: This time, Jesse only snorts, the noise somewhat muffled from behind his hands, which are still rubbing at his face tiredly. When he finally unearths his face, it takes a few moments of blinking before he can focus on the other boy, and he shifts on his bed a bit as Kellen approaches, since usually he climbs on as well. There’s a bit of relief when he doesn’t, and Jesse takes the offered pot with no question, fitting the joint to his mouth and flicking the lighter a few times before the tip is ignited. “It’ll be nice that he’s gone, for sure. Less tension in there. And we won’t have to worry about you or Michael or Jade having to resist the urge to kill him.”

Jay: Kellen nods emphatic agreement, only adding: "Or Leech." Because the parasite had as much difficulty with that as anyone, undoubtedly. While interested in his own concerns, it hasn't passed Kellen's attention that Jesse is much less energetic than usual. He's reminded of the bout of serious depression the boy had after Thanksgiving. He waits for Jesse to finish exhaling, then tilts his head to the side some. "Are ya feelin' arrite? You seem kinda...bleh."

Jackie: Finally getting the joint lit, Jesse takes a deep inhale and blindly offers it back to Kellen, holding the smoke in his lungs despite the initial desire to cough it all out. Once it’s taken, he squirms a little bit more to better angle himself towards Kellen, and looks more squarely up at the boy when that question is asked. He doesn’t smile, but he does wrinkle his nose, as if to say that question is ridiculous. He’s perfectly fine, or at least is perfectly fine with pretending to be perfectly fine. “Yeah, I’m all right. Just…kinda over being here. I’m ready for spring break."

Jay: Kellen makes an understanding noise in his throat as he inhales off the joint, glancing out the window to the ground, where the sun is out for a change, but doesn't seem to be doing any good in melting the drifts of snow piled around all the buildings and most of the grounds. "Yeh, me too. Er at least some sort of break. This place does start feelin' closed-in after a while." He hands the joint off again, shoulders twitching uncomfortably for the unexpected sound of Ness' laughter from the next room. The guy must be breaking his rules to spend some time with his ex-roommate. Kellen forces that out of his mind, not wanting to let the thought of the asshole ruin his good mood.

Jackie: “I just wanna be at the beach. On my surfboard.” The sigh that follows his words sounds so very wistful, like he wishes he could teleport to the other coast at this very moment. Taking the joint back, he puts it to his lips and inhales, already starting to feel the warmth of inebriation crawling up his limbs. “But it’s whatever. Soon enough, right?"

Jay: Again, Kellen shrugs, looking away from the window and back to his roommate. "Be nice if it was sooner. Man, I haven't been to the beach - like, an actual beach beach - since I was...eight, mebbe?" He squints as he attempts to recall the last family vacation that took them to a real beach, rather than the rocky or uncomfortable oceanside places nearby, then shakes his head.
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