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Jackie: Having finished his dinner with Justin after most of the cafeteria cleared out - the two boys totally engrossed in talks of seances - Jesse ducked away into the library to do a little research for his history project. And to renew one of his ghost books that he checked out. Kellen had scampered away half way through dinner with Mal, but Jesse didn't seem to mind, although when he thinks back on it, there's something in his gut that clenches; chances are, it's jealousy, but the young boy doesn't recognize it. Tim also had slinked away, but earlier during dinner, saying something about an appointment with a counselor, which isn't that suspicious, given his recent developments. So this all leaves Jesse alone for the evening, and when he departs from the library with a stack of books, he takes the long way back to the residence halls, wandering down one of the wings reserved for classrooms more inclined for the arts - the theatre, photography black room, and choir rooms are all down this hall. It appears empty, but not silent; Jesse is whistling quietly to some song stuck in his head.


Jay: Though Jesse might not find Tim's excuse suspicious, Michael has been kept out of the loop about Tim's 'recent developments' - just as he's kept out of the loop about most things, somehow. Ness had originally retired to his dorm room, but after an hour or so, when his roommate doesn't reappear, the boy decides to burn off extra energy lest he explode somehow, and heads downstairs to take a walk before curfew, despite the chill in the air. Most of the hallways being empty, he's a little startled by the appearance of Jesse and his whistling, but overcomes it soon enough, giving the boy a nod of greeting. "Hey. Studying up to raise the dead?" Obviously, he overheard some of Jesse's and Justin's conversation over dinner - not hard, since he had no one to converse with, himself.


Jackie: Wrapped up in his own whistling and thoughts of ghosts (which probably includes him thinking over all the knights of armor splattered throughout the school, and whether or not they come alive at night), Jesse is startled by Mike's voice, and he immediately squawks, dropping his books and raising his arms up in defense. He turns a bit in place before he locates Michael, and only then lets out a little laugh, which sounds very relieved when it's determined that he isn't under attack by the dead. He rolls his eyes but grins goofily, dropping to his knees so he can start piling up his books in an arm. "Well, not raise. I don't think bringing zombies into this school would be greatly appreciated." He glances up at Mike, still obviously amused. "What're you up to?"


Jay: Michael makes a noise of amusement for Jesse's reaction to his presence, then cocks his head to the side, thoughtful. "I dunno. Might not be much of a difference." He shrugs for the following question, casual, not quite wanting to admit how much he feels at loose ends, after Tim's evasive behavior of the day. "Oh, just...wandering. Thought I'd go have a smoke before curfew. You wanna join me?"


Jackie: Jesse snorts for the joke, amused because it's true - although the similarity between zombies and Tim's current state definitely runs through his mind. Getting his books back into a neat stack, Jesse struggles to his feet and then rests the books against his side casually. "Sure. But it's not a date, okay?" Not bothering with waiting for a response, Jesse shuffles down the hallway, towards the set of double doors that leads into the court yard.


Jay: Heaving an exaggerated sigh for that response, Mike drops his head and nods reluctantly. "All right...go ahead and break my heart." Shoving his hands in his pockets, he follows after Jesse, glancing absently around the hallway. The chill makes him hunch his shoulders up, once they're outside, and he heads around the side of the building where the wind is at least blocked some, and they won't be so easy to observe. "Kellen didn't join you for the study session?"


Jackie: Jesse smiles to himself for that response, enjoying the playfulness they are sharing because it compliments his own desire to be cheerful, no matter what. "Says the guy with the 'Heartbreaker' tattoo." The initial blast of cold air makes him hide his face into his stack of books, but he follows Michael around the brick wall and is grateful that the wind is considerably less gusty here. Leaning up against the building, Jesse watches Michael lazily. "Oh...no. Kellen says I'm the research department. He ran off with Mal, after dinner. And I like reading up on this stuff. It's cool."


Jay: Fishing his cigarettes out, Michael offers the box to Jesse, lifting an eyebrow at his words. "There's no rule that says a heartbreaker can't have his heart broken, you know." Once Jesse has taken a smoke, Michael gets one for himself, lighting it and moving to lean against the wall near the younger boy. "Oh, right, I remember them taking off now." He nods slightly, then tilts his head. "Kind of a weird pair, those two. But I guess it works."


Jackie: Instead of taking the entire box, Jesse just slips one out and stuff it between his lips; he isn't a frequent smoker, but`this seems like a decent time to indulge, and it'll maybe distract him from the cold. He shifts the books in his arm until he can hoist them up onto the window sill, and looks over at Mike curiously. "...that's true. Probably harder to do, though." He waits for Mike to light his own cigarette before shuffling closer, using the same flame to ignite his before stepping back to an appropriate distance. He briefly thinks over Mal and Kellen, but doesn't dwell - maybe subconsciously doing so, because any time he does think about them, he doesn't like the resulting feeling. "I don't know. I mean, like, Mal's probably the nicest person in the school. He gets along with everyone."


Jay: Michael shrugs for that first observation, doubtful, but he doesn't particularly want to go into that right now. Shivering at a sudden blast, he replaces both hands in his jacket pockets and just keeps the cigarette in his mouth, talking around it. "Yeah, but that's my point. He's my friend, but Kellen can be a total asshole. Besides, Malachi is always so sincere about everything, and Kellen hardly takes anything seriously - I don't see how they can work out, at all."


Jackie: Jesse absolutely grins for that description, because it's totally true, and he removes the cigarette from his mouth so he can talk and ash it off to the side. "You're kind of an asshole, too, though." The way he says it doesn't come across as mean, or even accusatory; instead, it sounds observational, and Jesse makes sure to keep on talking so the words don't have any bite to them. "Opposites attract, I suppose. Plus, they both wear eye make up. Maybe they're exchanging tips or something."


Jay: Despite the relative harmlessness of Jesse's words, Mike widens his eyes as if mortally offended. "How dare you! If I am an asshole, I'm only an asshole when I need to be. Kellen's an asshole because he thinks it's funny." Whether or not there's any truth to that, Mike seems appeased with his justification. The following words gain a little smirk; Ness has nothing against eye make-up, wears it himself sometimes, but Malachi definitely takes it in a different direction. "Well, if Kellen shows up with glittery eyeshadow and flavored lipgloss, we'll know. Although, I guess he probably ends up with flavored lipgloss either way..."


Jackie: Initially, Jesse thinks he's in trouble, and immediately looks up to Michael's eyes, his own widened, ready to plead his innocence. But then Michael doesn't actually seem upset, and Jesse relaxes a bit, taking another drag from his cigarette and blowing the smoke up, away from their faces. "There's no if." And then, realizing that just sounds mean, and Jesse isn't very good at being mean, he elaborates: "But I mean, like, not all of the time. And I think it's more so that Kellen is funny, but in an asshole sort of way. He's still a good guy. You both are." He thinks that over briefly, but gets distracted by Michael's next words - they make his noise wrinkle up, and he shakes his head a little bit. "Man...gross. That's just weird."


Jay: Inwardly amused by the way Jesse tries so hard to avoid insulting him, Michael's smile isn't visible anywhere but his eyes. An eyebrow quirks for the eventual ruling of himself, and Kellen, as good guys - something that's probably debatable in both cases - he eventually shrugs, setting the matter aside in favor of laughing at Jesse's disgust. "I dunno, the cherry kind wasn't too bad." Pausing, he removes the cigarette from his mouth to ash it. "You ever figure out why he disappeared last night?"


Jackie: Still wrapped up in his own disgust of flavored lip gloss - since for one thing, it's girly, and the other being that it's Kellen and Mal - Jesse is still slowly shaking his head, as if he's shaking the thought out of his mind. "That's just gross." Eventually, after a few more attempts of wiping the thought from his mind, Jesse is able to pick his head back up and look at Mike curiously, taking a moment to realize who he's talking about. "Oh, Kel, you mean? No...I forgot to ask. Couldn't have been too serious, though - he was back in our room after lights out."


Jay: Michael gives a noise of amusement, but doesn't argue the lipgloss any more. He pushes off the building merely to pace in small circles, some attempt to keep himself warm. "That's good. It's weird...before he took off, he looked at me and Tim, and he looked...really fucking pissed." He lifts his head to look at Jesse, an eyebrow arched in query.


Jackie: Opposite of Michael, Jesse leans more heavily against the wall, pressing both shoulder blades into the cold brick so he can look at Mike's pacing more evenly. He looks a little confused for that detail, and tilts his head like a curious puppy, the gears in his mind starting to turn, but not really working towards a solid answer. "Really? That's...kinda weird." He can't imagine why Kellen would be against Tim and Mike being affectionate, giving the boy's role in getting them together in the first place, but is now starting to doubt things. "Wait...like, do you think he was pissed at you guys?"


Jay: Shrugging slowly, Mike tilts his head towards the shoulder that's rising, looking appropriately baffled. "It seemed like it, but I can't imagine why he would be. I mean...he was just as insistent as you, about getting me and Tim together. And I don't see why he'd suddenly be jealous now, when...y'know...whatever happened with me and him was..." Sort of awkward, he waves a dismissive hand for that whole idea.


Jackie: Jesse looks at Michael with slightly widened eyes, trying to process things; he can't really understand why Kellen would be jealous, either - and the boy surely hasn't said anything about it. "That just...I mean, no. He would've said something. For sure. Maybe he was just pissed 'cause he's gonna have to deal with Tony freaking out, during guitar class." Not all that believable, but also not totally out of the picture. "Has he said anything to you?"


Jay: Mike shrugs again, pretty doubtful of that explanation. "I dunno. I mean, he looked really, really mad." The question receives a negative shake of the head. "Nah, he hasn't said anything about it. He's been pretty much like normal today. But Tim...after he saw Kellen leave last night, and all day today, he hasn't said much to me. Been sorta distant, you know? But then, he's done that before now..." Tilting his head back, Ness stares up at the building in thought, plainly not seeing it."


Jackie: Jesse makes a face that looks like he's deep in thought, and he sort of is; the gears in his mind are turning, but they still aren't getting him anywhere that seems reasonable. "Maybe he was just mad about something else. 'Cause you know Kel - if he's mad at you, you're bound to know it."

Leaning more heavily against the building, Jesse takes another drag from his cigarette and quips his head to the side, agreeing with Mike's statements about Tim; Lint has obviously been distant, and a little all over the place, emotionally. Some days, he laughs easily, others he can barely crack a smile. But that's at least understandable - or at least, understandable to those that know the details. "Yeah, I kinda noticed that, too. But that's just like, I mean, the situation's so fucked up. It's probably really draining to have to talk to the counselor so often, and take those medicines..."


Jay: Making a noise that agrees with Jesse's assertion, he still looks somewhat doubtful, because Kellen was quite obviously pissed at someone, but neither Ness nor (as far as he knows) Tim has heard about it yet. Still spacing out, he only halfway hears the rest of Jesse's words, but focuses back in in time to hear the last sentence or so clearly. "Yeah...yeah, he's been at the counselor for a long damn time, tonight. A few nights ago, too, when Snider took me downstairs to put me in isolation, the beast in the dungeon said something about Tim having an anxiety attack and requesting to be put in isolation." His increase of interest is audible as he goes on, recalling these peculiar circumstances, though he hasn't known Tim long enough to realize that his behavior changed drastically around Thanksgiving - perhaps he's always been this way.


Jackie: Once he's done talking, Jesse's head is dropped and his eyes downcast, looking at his own converse, thinking it all over. It's no surprise that Tim's been having more counselor meetings, and there have been a few nights where he's requested isolation, but Jesse was never alarmed by them; typically, Tim would seek him out the next day, press a kiss to his forehead, and reassure him that things were all right. He's maybe a little surprised to think that he doesn't do the same to Mike, given how he obviously holds feelings for him. "Well, it's not like he wants to be holed up with some head doctor, talking about how his parents abandoned him for hours on end. Heck, I'd want to be locked up for a freaking week if I had to do that." He wrinkles his nose again at the thought, but shrugs a shoulder, continuing: "He told me, before, that sometimes it's just better for him to be alone. Probably explains the isolation."


Jay: Turning his head to look at Jesse finally, Mike's right eyebrow raises increasingly higher the longer the boy talks; by the time Jesse falls silent, it's nearly reached the line of his slicked-back hair. "He-- wait, what? His parents abandoned him?" The left eyebrow raises now, too, a look of complete bafflement; he's definitely in no danger of spacing out again. "When did that happen?"


Jackie: Using his cigarette-free hand, Jesse rubs at his buzzed hair, growing a little more concerned about his best friend, despite his own words that are attempting to rationalize the other boy's recent behavior. He's maybe trying to piece things together, because he looks very much in thought, and is a little startled when Michael doesn't seem to be on the same page as him. And then it hits him - that he doesn't actually know what happened - and the younger boy visibly pales. He looks at Mike with wide eyes, but this time they look more sad than surprised, and his voice is much quieter. "You...didn't know?" He waits a second, when it's clear that Michael really had no idea, before answering that question. "Tim's parents gave him up. Right before Thanksgiving. Like, relinquished their rights, gave him to the courts."


Jay: Michael's eyebrows cannot physically raise anymore, otherwise they would be, but he pales some himself at Jesse's explanation, giving a slight shake of the head. "No..." He blinks a few times, dazed, then shakes his head more firmly. "No, he never told me that." Taking a final drag from his cigarette, he tosses it on the ground and squishes it with a boot, continuing to stare at the ground afterwards.


Jackie: Jesse keeps his eyes on his dorm mate, watching him react and becoming more and more surprised at the fact that he didn't know. It's not as though Tim broadcasted it - actually, he's pretty ashamed of it - but Mike and him share a room (and more recently, a bed), so he thought maybe, given Tim's obvious affections for the boy, that he'd open up. The fact that Mike takes a while to process spurs Jesse into action, and he too flicks his cigarette off to the side, stepping forward to grab at Mike's shoulders and encourage him to look up. "Mike, okay, you need to promise me you won't say anything. Like, promise promise. I thought...you knew. And I told Tim I wouldn't say anything, to anyone. So like, you can't. You can't."


Jay: Though he doesn't lift his head, Mike's eyes do raise to look at Jesse, perhaps a bit reluctant. He's not actually sure he can make that promise, or keep it if he does, so for now he temporizes. "So this is why he's having all those meetings with the counselor...and when he had to go to the doctor in Boston? He told me it was something to do with baseball season, but he was really going to see a shrink or something, wasn't he?" Though he sounds unmistakeably upset, he doesn't seem to necessarily be angry with Tim. Dropping his gaze back to his feet, he shakes his head, murmuring a 'Jesus Christ' under his breath.


Jackie: Jesse's eyes are frantically trying to read deeper into Michael's, are trying to find reassurance behind those blueish green irises, but he can't find it. He doesn't fail to recognize that Mike doesn't agree to that promise, but he feels the need to address the boy's other statements before requesting it again. When he talks, his tone is low, very sad, and he sighs before dropping his arms, but still keeps his positioning in front of the older boy. "...yeah. They've got him on these...antidepressants, and mandatory psych meetings. It's..." He trails off, his own eyes dropping to the snow covered ground, trying to find the right wording besides 'totally fucked up'. He can't find them, right now. "It's why he's been so...like this, the past few weeks. Past few months, really. But Mike...you gotta promise me you won't say anything to him. I wasn't supposed to say anything. Like, barely anyone knows."


Jay: Absently, Mike fishes another cigarette out of his pocket and lights it, giving a quiet groan as Jesse goes on and, once the younger boy's hands drop, he returns to pacing. "Fuck. But, why? Why the fuck would his parents do that? I mean, Tim's a good kid. He's not like..." He waves a hand towards the main building, indicating the majority of their classmates, but then gives a short laugh that doesn't sound very amused. "He's not like me. Shit, my dad would be thrilled to have a son like Tim." He doesn't miss the comment about 'barely anyone' knowing, and while it stings that he wasn't one of the few Tim told, he's too blindsided to focus on that yet.


Jackie: Jesse takes a small step backwards when Mike starts his pacing, and moves a hand through his buzzed hair roughly. There's a definite feeling of guilt taking over his chest, because this wasn't information that was meant to be shared, but at the same time, there's sympathy for Mike - it's obvious the boy is bothered not only by the details, but in being left out of being told. It's a hard thing for the younger boy to relate to, since he's mostly had a good relationship with his parents, so he shrugs a shoulder tensely and purses his lips. "I...don't know. He got a letter, a few days before Thanksgiving, saying that they had given up their parental rights. And it was..." He thinks back, to when he returned from break and got caught up with Tim, who was a shell of a person, at that point, and he sneers. But he does blink back up at Michael, when the boy mentions his own father, and there's definitely sympathy in his eyes, their intensity much softer. "You're not bad, Mike."


Jay: Coming to a stop, Mike collapses back against the building again, rubbing a hand roughly over his face. Jesse's words gain a loud, comprehensive snort and a quick pointed look, because surely the kid realizes that, by the reckoning of the school staff and several other adults, Ness is one of the worst students in the place, especially given how often he visits isolation - and this doesn't even take into account the things he did before being sent here. But Jesse's attempt to reassure him does give a moment of levity, which Michael's thankful for. It passes too quickly, though, and he drags heavily off his cigarette, exhaling on a sigh. "This is fucking terrible."


Jackie: Mike's pacing makes Jesse a little uncomfortable, mostly because he so desperately wants things to be calm and okay, and the older boy looks a bit like he's ready to punch the brick wall. But he doesn't try to stop him, and instead remains still himself, perhaps trying to instill calmness around them, despite the unloading of information that's really, really fucked up. He, too, is grateful for the break in tension, and he huffs a little, amused, before answering. "You do bad things, but you're not a bad person." Which he firmly believes; there are glimmers of a not-so-tough-guy that Jesse sometimes sees, and the way Mike sometimes smiles at Tim definitely shows some softness in the boy, despite how many times he's been in an altercation this school year. But almost immediately, he's met with that swelling, horrible feeling, and he nod, still rubbing at his scalp. "Yeah. It's..." He can't find words that he hasn't already used, so he shrugs, looks off to the side. "Sad. Really sad."


Jay: Michael hardly even notices Jesse's attempt to justify him to himself, giving a minute nod for the boy's later words and falling silent for a few moments as he tries to process all of this. Terrible as it is, it's also somewhat reassuring to have some explanation for Tim's up-and-down mood changes towards him. This cigarette is smoked much more quickly, and Mike doesn't speak again until it's been snuffed, looking back to his suitemate with a serious look. "Jesse, I won't say anything to him, but...I can't just forget about it, I can't act like I don't know."


Jackie: Remaining where he is, still looking off to the side, Jesse looks deep in thought, like maybe he's trying to figure it all out again, why Tim's parents would do such a thing. But any time he goes down this road, he never actually gets anywhere other than into a state of severe sadness - or rage. He looks back up at the other boy when he speaks again, and he watches him carefully, slowly accepting those words because he really can't imagine anyone being able to shrug it all off. So he nods curtly, once, and takes another careful sigh. "I think he's trying to forget about it. Forget that it ever happened."


Jay: Michael straightens up from the wall, hands returning to his pockets again. "Yeah, I don't blame him. Don't think going to counseling all the time will let him do that, though." Shrugging uncomfortably, he heads back around the building towards the entrance. "C'mon, let's get inside. It's fucking cold out here, and curfew's not too far away."


Jackie: Jesse only manages to let out a little grunt, agreeing with that assessment; Tim hasn't been able to escape from reality, not with the constant reminder of where he is, and why he's here. Not needing to be convinced to head inside, Jesse trots over to grab his stack of books, but is noticeably more downtrodden than earlier - surely, this conversation wasn't exactly chipper for either one of them. Heading back inside, Jesse waits at the door for Michael to enter, and then starts down the hallway. He feels uncomfortable, and maybe a little guilty, so he talks down at his shoes. "Sorry, Mike."


Jay: Relaxing a bit when they get inside where it's warm, Michael glances over at Jesse, quirking an eyebrow. "Sorry for what?" Undoubtedly, it has something to do with their conversation topic, but Mike can't think of anything that Jesse needs to apologize for. Reaching the staircase, he pulls the door open for the younger boy to precede him.


Jackie: Sucking his lower lip into his mouth, Jesse gnaws on it for a moment and then shrugs a shoulder for that question, unsure of a suitable answer. Obviously, their conversation shifted both of their moods, so perhaps the boy feels guilty for that; before, he could harbor his emotions internally, but now Mike has to share in the knowledge. "For telling you."


Jay: "Oh." Mike immediately waves a hand in dismissal. "Don't be. I'm glad you did. I mean, I wish he would've told me, but now that I know...at least I can understand why he acts the way he does sometimes." He pauses briefly, pursing his lips and debating whether he ought to say the next thing. Eventually, he goes forward, since Jesse seems to be the biggest advocate for his relationship with Tim - and since Kellen isn't here to mock him. "I was kinda starting to think he didn't...not that he didn't want to be with me, but that he didn't want to want to. Does that make sense?" He sideglances at Jesse, eyebrow lifted yet again.


Jackie: Quickly diverting his eyes back to the floor, watching his feet shuffling along the dark wood floor, Jesse purses his lips again, thinking that over. He can't imagine not knowing this type of detail, since Tim is his best friend, so he understands why Mike would wish that. Especially with how seemingly close they seem to have grown, since coming back from break. "Yeah, I mean...he wasn't always like this. He like, smiled way more and stuff." Which is probably hard for Mike to imagine, but it's true - and sometimes, especially in the rare instances that Tim allows himself to be amused by his room mate, those smiles return - which may be the reason behind Jesse being completely on board with the two of them being A Thing. Distracted by that train of thought, he's brought back to himself when Mike starts talking again, and he looks up and over at the boy curiously, maybe a bit surprised at his willingness to talk about this aspect of their Thing. "...yeah, that makes sense. You really think that, though?"


Jay: Mike nods in understanding, since he has seen the smiles and laughing, but knows how very rare it is now. He stays silent while they pass through the common area, though there are only a few students occupying the space now. As they reach their own dorm hall he finally replies. "I dunno...I'm not sure what to think. I mean, sometimes everything seems great, but other times he tenses up when I touch him and hardly says anything to me." He scowls as he adds: "And Tony's fucking bullshit does not help." Glancing through the partially open door of his own dorm, he can tell it's still unoccupied, so he continues into Jesse's dorm with him.


Jackie: Approaching their dorm rooms, Jesse peers inside of Mike and Tim's, noticing that it's still empty, and is maybe silently relieved; it's not all that common that Michael opens up to him, and despite the sourness of the beginning part of their conversation, he's enjoying talking to the boy. Slinking into his own room, he immediately bee lines to his desk, to deposit his books, and looks over his shoulder at Michael as he talks. "Have you tried talking to him about it?" Perhaps it's a simple answer, but it's not like Jesse is at all well versed in relationships, or intimate emotions. Making his way towards his bed, he sits on the edge of it, so he can start untying his shoe laces. "I'm pretty sure Tim doesn't believe anything Tony has to say, anymore. I mean, you saw how he responded last night." When Tim hardly acknowledged Tony's presence, and instead latched onto Mike's neck with his mouth.


Jay: Mike smirks, maybe a little bitterly, for that first question. He glances around before answering, relieved to see that Kellen isn't around to add his sarcastic voice to the conversation. "Talking to him doesn't work, if he doesn't talk back." By now, he's well-versed in Tim's methods of evasion. Pacing across the room, Mike draws the chair out from Jesse's desk and straddles it backwards, crossing his arms over the back. "And yeah, he might not believe Tony all the time, but he still -- I'm not saying he doesn't have reason to doubt me. I know I've been sorta...y'know...I moved around a lot, since I got here." Mike glances aside as he says this, examining one of Kellen's drawings tacked onto the wall, plainly avoiding calling himself a slut. "But that was different."


Jackie: Focusing on getting his shoes off, Jesse glances up at Michael as he gets settled in that seat, and is endlessly amused by the boy; if he didn't know any better, he'd swear he sees some vulnerability stemming from Mike. "Talking to him could at least get it started. He may not talk back, but I'm positive he'll listen." It's kind of ridiculous for Jesse to be the one saying these things, since the boy can't even look at the grade eleven anatomy books without giggling, but he is closest to Tim, and knows how the boy functions better than anyone else.

But he listens patiently, probably even further amused by Mike's depiction of himself; his careful word choices bring a small grin to Jesse's face, but he busies himself again with tossing his shoes to the side and working off his sweater vest. "What was different?"


Jay: Michael makes a doubtful noise for that, absently running a hand over his hair. The fact of it is, he wouldn't even be sure how to start a serious conversation - particularly without letting on that he knows about Tim's parents. But for now, he focuses on the latter question, turning to look at Jesse skeptically. Undoubtedly, Mike thinks the difference is obvious. "Well, it wasn't like...those other guys, it didn't matter, you know? Just, a way to kill time, and a little fun, on both sides. But with Tim..." He pauses, scowling down at the floor and looking frustrated with himself. After a moment, he gives a heavy sigh through his nose. "I'm not actually all that good at this stuff. I'm better with girls, but I haven't ever really been with -- I mean, I haven't had a relationship with a dude. Not a serious one, anyway." A brief pause, before he amends: "At least, no one like Tim." Probably, honesty isn't helping his cause all that much right now.


Jackie: Before he has the option to think and choose his wording better, Jesse blurts out automatically: "I kill time by playing chess, not sleeping with people." It doesn't sound harsh at all - rather, it's comically adorable, and Jesse immediately closes his mouth and his eyes, inwardly cursing himself because really, he's such a fucking child sometimes. He lets his comment pass, still with his eyes closed, before he blinks over at Mike and tries to look like he's totally not a doofus. "Whatcha mean, no one like Tim? You've been with other dudes before--" Really, Jesse knows close to nothing when it comes to relationships; before, he probably would have figured Mike and Kellen would get married, based solely on the fact that they hooked up a few times. Tossing his sweater vest off to the side, Jesse shoves himself further onto the bed, and leans up against the wall. He looks adorably young, so naive and curious. "Is it really that different, being in a relationship? I always sort of figured it was like...being yourself. Just with somebody else along for the ride."


Jay: That statement surprises Mike more than it offends him, and he makes a strangled noise of mirth (trying not to laugh, since it might make Jesse feel more ridiculous than he apparently already does), raising a hand to cover his grin until he can recover. "Well...stick with what you're good at, I guess." Implying, of course, that he's better at sex than he is at chess, or most anything else. Glad for the moment of lightness, he doesn't avoid Jesse's gaze any more, resting his chin on his crossed arms and giving a slight shrug. "In a perfect world, maybe...but I haven't found it to be like that. I guess the main difference is, when you're being yourself, you don't have to consider anyone else before yourself - and in a relationship, you do." He seems to think that over for a moment, then adds casually: "At least, in a good relationship, you do. I guess not everyone sees it that way, though."


Jackie: Jesse definitely catches onto that muffled noise coming from Michael, but he doesn't take it as a jab at himself - in fact, he grins for it, because it's pretty clear to everyone that Jesse isn't a sexual creature, and he's damn good at chess. Stretching out against the wall some more, Jesse lets out a quiet sigh when he feels some of the bones in his back pop, the tension slowly evaporating out of his body the more he presses into the hard surface.

Undoubtedly, this conversation takes his mind back to Tim's prior relationship, since he doesn't have one of his own to relate it to. Things with Lars and Tim never got ugly, and mostly ended when the boy was shipped off to St. Ulric's; he figures they'd still be together, had that never had happened. Back them, Tim was a pretty happy dude; that equal balance of a relationship seeming to be something that suited the boy. But he tilts his head once again at Michael, nodding for his words, but still curious. "So...is that what you want with Tim?"


Jay: That's a pretty point-blank question, a little unexpected, and Michael hesitates to answer it - not because he's unsure of his answer, but he is a little dismayed at how quickly and vehemently he answers it in his own mind. Swallowing, he glances away again before speaking in a quiet voice that unfortunately doesn't sound as off-hand as he'd like. "Yeah, of course." After a moment, he recollects himself enough to look back at the younger boy.

"I haven't - well, you weren't there, but that trip we took for Thanksgiving, I got into a fight with Tony while everyone else was eating. After, when they all got back, he was telling Tim what a raging whore I am and how many guys I've been with since I got here. He didn't have it all straight, but he wasn't totally wrong, and it wouldn't have bothered me if it hadn't obviously bothered Tim. So since then, I haven't been with anyone else at all. I'm not sure it's what he wants, though. Sometimes I think it is, but then he starts being all...y'know."


Jackie: Jesse watches Michael's face carefully as he hesitates to find an answer, and both of his eyebrows raise when the answer is finally given. It isn't so much doubt as it is curiosity, and after a moment Jesse's mouth starts to break out into a grin, because this is wildly unexpected. When he first started the crusade to get these two boys together, he never really contemplated what 'together' meant; he just knew that there was an obvious attraction there, and both boys seem to smile in a very specific way, when around one another. Jesse had never really thought of anything beyond getting the boys to actually engage with one another in a more intimate way, and the idea of a legitimate relationship makes his chest warm in affection. "Good."

He nods briefly, approving of this, but listens intently as Mike continues to talk. He hadn't realized what had happened during break, or what hadn't happened since break - namely, Michael hooking up with other guys - so he takes a few moments to process, while fiddling his hands in his lap. "There's only one way to find out, ya know." Which obviously hints at Michael actually talking to Tim about this, but Jesse doesn't find it necessary to repeat his earlier words.


Jay: The obvious glee that his words create in Jesse cause a faint, shifty grin to form on Mike's face, despite how hopeless the situation seems at times, and it remains there as he talks as if he isn't aware of it. "Yeah, well, maybe it's different for you, but it seems to me that Tim's really good at not talking about his feelings. I mean, I can try, but the way he's been today..." He shakes his head some; given that his roommate's been spending the last couple of hours (supposedly) talking to a counselor, Mike has no doubt that the boy will be exceptionally introverted for the rest of the night.


Jackie: The smile that stretches across Jesse's face doesn't go away, even as he talks, or as he listens to Michael talk. He just beams brightly, obviously encouraged by Mike's continued conversation - and for the fact that the older boy also has a goofy grin on his face. "I think you should. And if all else fails, you can borrow my chess board." He sounds totally serious, but the twinkle in his eyes shows his amusement. He forces himself to look down at his hands, which are still fiddling with one another, and he takes a few moments to find the right wording to maybe encourage Michael to work at digging Tim out of this hole, because he's starting to realize the depth of which this Thing between them is. Once he has those words he looks back up, still smiling a bit. "'Cause I think that's what he wants, too."


Jay: Initially confused by Jesse's offer of the chess board, Mike figures it out a moment later and rolls his eyes. "Don't worry; I'm pretty sure I can keep myself from getting that desperate." The following words make him look at Jesse doubtfully, although that tiny grin might return unnoticed. "...yeah? What makes you think that? Has he said anything to you?" As Mike speaks, a sort of chime comes over the loudspeaker; quieter and less harsh than the school bells, but still noticeable, it's the noise that warns students they have fifteen minutes to return to their rooms for curfew, and an hour and fifteen minutes until lights out. But since nobody actually checks the dorms until after lights out, Mike stays where he is - as long as he's not wandering the halls or outside, none of the staff will care if he isn't in his own dorm.


Jackie: Letting out a little giggle for the returned joke, Jesse wrinkles his nose, not wanting to think about what Michael would be doing, before getting that desperate. He's about to respond to those questions, but then the bell chimes over the loud speaker, and even though he doesn't need to, he looks at the clock to verify the time. He doesn't bother with questioning where Kellen is, since he knows the boy will plop into the room a minute after curfew, as is tradition, and crawl into his own bed so he can roll up a joint. So he looks back at Mike and shakes his head, one of his hands moving up to rub at his scalp again. "No, not...not directly. But like, he's my best friend. I know him. I know when he really likes somebody, 'cause he tries really, really hard not to. And I see how he looks at you, when he thinks no one else is looking. I can tell." Really, the boy isn't far off in his assumptions - it's just a little more complicated than that.


Jay: Michael hums thoughtfully, not doubting Jesse's words, but not quite seeing how this helps his own position. Brushing aside the pleasure of the boy's observations, he sounds slightly more frustrated. "Well, yeah, I know he likes me. But maybe he doesn't want to. When he--"

The reason for Ness abruptly falling silent is obvious; Kellen enters, still moving slower than usual, and his deviation from routine is explained by the fact that Malachi still accompanies him. The quiet boy is staying close to Kellen's side and perhaps has one of his hands in one of Kellen's back pockets, but gives both Jesse and Mike a small, warm smile in greeting. Kellen pauses momentarily inside the door, gaze switching from one to the other, before continuing as expected to his bed and taking out his weed from the not-so-secret hiding spot on the underside of his nightstand. "Well, go on, Ness. Don't let me interrupt."


Jackie: Jesse looks over at Michael intently, maybe even leaning forward a bit to listen carefully. It's a little strange, seeing the boy being so honest - especially about something so personal - because Jesse really doesn't know much about Mike, aside from the basics. He opens his mouth to make his own point, but then Kellen is interrupting, and Mal is smiling, and Jesse absolutely notices the hand stuffed into the back pocket of his room mates pants. He gets a little flustered, almost like he has difficulty remembering what they were talking about, and forces his attention back to Mike. He rolls his eyes for what Kellen says, because they're soaked with sarcasm and he knows that Mike will shut off with him in the room. "Where'd you guys go?"


Jay: Straightening up some, Mike eyes Kellen thoughtfully; the jocular comment had something beneath it besides the friendly mockery he's used to sharing with Kellen, but he can't quite figure out what it was. So he just shakes his head dismissively. "It'll wait."

Malachi moves to take a seat on the edge of Kellen's bed, as the younger boy rummages in his stash, and gives Jesse another smile for the question. He might not be completely oblivious to the underlying tension in the room, but he does seem intent on ignoring it. "We were downstairs. Leech was in the music room with Mr. Andriano - the art teacher, you know? - were playing, so we joined them." A very slight hesitation comes before he adds somewhat nonchalantly: "Jade was there, too."

Kellen, having located the weed and filled a pipe, edges over to nudge the door closed before sitting next to Mal and lighting it up. "How'd yer research go, Jess?"


Jackie: Jesse's eyes dart between Michael and Kellen, and he looks torn - like he wants to stay here and hang out with his room mate, but he also wants to drag Mike into the bathroom and continue their conversation. For the moment, he stays put, since his dorm mate does just what he thought he'd do (shuts off), and instead smiles a little for Mal's answer, because he knows that's one of Kellen's favorite things to do. "I didn't know Mr. Andriano played anything. That's fun! I call dibs, next time."

Stretching his legs out more comfortable, he tips his head to each side briefly, popping his neck a few times, and sighing for the sensation. He glances over at his pile of books and shrugs a shoulder. "It was all right. I have a lot of questions that Justin should be able to help out with. I checked out a few more of the old, old yearbooks."


Jay: Michael, seeing Jesse's uncertain glance, catches his eye and gives him a faintly reassuring smile. Truly, he's already said more than he typically would to anyone (barring Dennis) about his emotions, and has no urge to prolong the conversation - especially knowing that nothing helpful will come from it.

Kellen nods enthusiastically for Jesse's words, but as he's full of smoke, it's Malachi that answers verbally as Kellen hands off the pipe to Jesse. "He plays bass - and guitar too, I think. He's really pretty good. You should definitely come along next time." Kellen exhales a cloud of smoke, blinking a couple of times. "Yeh? That sounds promising. Next full moon is in like two and a half weeks, I think...mebbe we should try the bell tower again." Belatedly remembering, he gets up to open a window, wincing just a little as he unfolds.


Jackie: Jesse doesn't think twice about accepting that offered pipe, and immediately puts it to his lips so he can take a hit, and keep the weed smoldering. He inhales deeply and holds the smoke in, all while scooting down the bed a bit to easily hand the pipe over to Michael without question. "Count me in. And Justin, too. He's really good. His fingers are like spiders on the fretboard."

Once the pipe is taken, Jesse exhales the smoke - not coughing this time, since he's had so much practice smoking pot since sharing a room with Kellen. Then he uses his free hand to rub at his buzzed scalp and looks over at Kellen with a bit of a smile. "We could. Or maybe those trees in the court yard. Something. And Justin is definitely coming."


Jay: Malachi nods agreeably, though he doesn't have the day-to-day proof of watching Hollywood play, his performance at the last recital was impressive. "I wish I had any talent for musical instruments. I would like to be able to play something." Kellen returns, patting Malachi's head before he flops onto the bed - carefully - so his words are directed towards the ceiling. "Mebbe you should ask Leech for piano lessons. Yer hands are pretty dexterous."

Inhaling as Kellen says this, Mike chokes briefly on the smoke and is forced to let it out with something halfway between a cough and a laugh. "I wouldn't think you'd want Leech paying much attention to anyone else's dexterous hands, Kellen." The only response that Kellen gives for this is to turn his head in Mike's direction, squinting one eye dubiously, so Mike goes on: "Anyways, Mal, not everyone's born with a voice like yours. I'm sure you'll always be welcome in any musical gathering." He offers the pipe to Malachi, who doesn't partake but passes it on to Kellen, beaming at Ness for the compliment and blithely ignoring the suggestion in Kellen's words. Turning to face Jesse again, Mike gives him a mock-serious look: "Whatever you guys end up doing, I am not coming on the next ghost hunt. I've had enough chapel-cleaning for a lifetime."


Jackie: Jesse, predictably, wrinkles his nose for Kellen's suggestion, because it's laced with so much innuendo that it almost makes him uncomfortable. But living with Kellen, and living near Mike, has made the boy a little more thicker skinned for such comments, and he's able to shake the thought away fairly quickly. "Yeah, Mal. You've got like, killer pipes. You should jam out with Justin sometime. It'd be pretty cool, I bet." And safely away from Kellen, of course.


Jackie: ...


Jackie: Although he smokes often with Kellen, his tolerance isn't the same as the other boy, and he can already feel his eyelids feeling heavy - or puffier - than a minute ago. But it's a pleasant sensation, and his body seems to be relaxing, and he falls to the side to sprawl out on the bed, looking over at Michael with very innocent eyes, like he can't believe why Ness wouldn't want to join in on their ghost adventures, save for the annoying punishment that follows them. "Oh, c'mon, Mike. We had fun. Plus, like...Tim needs company. It's not like it was all bad."


Jay: Kellen takes the pipe Mal offers, giving that oddly charming, feral grin of his for the way Mal narrows his eyes in warning, then sits up to relight the weed and draw off it. Snorting daintily, Malachi turns back to Jesse. The comment seems to flatter him, but his eyes widen for the prospect of playing with Justin. "Oh...I'm not sure I could do...that sort of music."

Michael leans back, arching his back some to stretch it and quirking an eyebrow at Jesse as he relaxes once more. "That's if Tim goes with you." There isn't much force behind his words, since he knows well that if Jesse asks, Tim will go. "What, exactly, was the good part of that? You and Kellen freaking out at every little noise? Or maybe the part where you forced me into admitting to sleeping with staff members? Pretty sure more confessions of that sort won't help my cause."


Jackie: Snagging a pillow to stuff under his head, Jesse watches the exchange between Kellen and Malachi passively, perhaps willing himself to stop feeling pangs of jealousy because his room mate obviously has another close friend - and why shouldn't he? Jesse has Tim and, more recently, Justin. He talks without lifting his chin from its resting spot atop his forearm. "But maybe he could play your sort of music. Or! Oh, Jade. That'd be kinda cool."

Once Kellen hands over the pipe again, Jesse takes another hit, and then another (the second one much shorter) before handing it over to Michael again. He rolls his eyes overdramatically, and flicks a wrist out in exageration. "It was good practice. And, if we hadn't had done that, then we wouldn't have been punished, and you and Tim wouldn't have hooked up in the confessional booth. So, really. you owe us."


Jay: For that, Malachi just gives a shifty little smile, not quite blushing but not far from it either. Kellen glances sideways at him, then gives a snort of amusement, leaning forward to hand the pipe off to Jesse again. "Actually, we got Jade to agree to letting Mal sing one of our songs, fer the next recital. Leech says he doesn't mind, either. At least that'll be one less song Tony will be singing." Just the thought of Tony is enough to make Kellen sneer, and a brief scowl flits over Ness' face, too.

This disappears shortly, as he lifts both eyebrows in Jesse's direction, though smiling a bit for the boy's self-righteous justification. "Or, we would've enjoyed some privacy - the uninterrupted kind - instead, while you and Kellen were off cleaning the chapel every day." Recalling that incident, he shifts his gaze suspiciously to Kellen. "And just what'd you do with those pictures, anyway?" Kellen widens his eyes and bats his lashes a couple times, an innocent expression that suits him not at all, swallowing back the seething anger that this conversation naturally raises in him. It's not at all a good thing that Ness and Tim are being more openly affectionate, to his mind. "Nothing at all...yet."


Jackie: Jesse grins a bit to himself for Malachi's response, because it's bashful and adorable and so, so telling. But he doesn't pester the boy more, since most of his badgering is directed and Tim and Michael, and maybe he should take a different approach to Mal and Jade. "Oh! That's good. Tony's voice sounds like a freaking weasel. I heard him practicing like, two days ago, when I was walking past his room. It was like, actually, legitimately horrible. I thought he had a voice manipulator or something."

Now attentive to Mike, Jesse again rolls his eyes, because what-the-fuck-ever. "One day, you'll thank us." It just may not be today. Or tomorrow. Reminded of the photos, Jesse giggles a bit and stuffs his face into the bed, amused because he and Kellen definitely plotted a bit with those photos. But instead of giving that away, he speaks out, voice muffled. "We're gonna print them on canvases and put them up around your dorm. Duh."


Jay: Kellen sighs heavily for that reminder, shoulders slumping. "I know. I've heard." He sounds completely despondent. Though he and Jade usually manage to shut Tony up pretty quickly, Kellen has still heard more of his singing than anyone should have to while in class. Mike's question distracts him some, though, and he grins, more for Jesse's reaction than for the thought of their plan. "Yeh, totally; then you won't need to spend so much time in front of the mirror, Ness - you can look at yourself all the time."

Looking doubtful for Jesse's initial words, Michael rolls his eyes for what follows. "Fantastic. You want me to pose for a few nudes, too? You print them out and sell them, I'll give you half the profits." This doesn't sound all that serious, of course, but emphasizes his supposed ego, and therefore leads right into Kellen's following comment. "Oh, go to Hell, Kellen." Standing, he flips the boy off genially before shoving the chair back under the desk. "I'll see you guys tomorrow, I'm gonna go get some work done before lights out."



Jackie: Jesse lifts his head to give Kellen a very sympathetic look, because he really does feel bad for the boy; Tony is getting obnoxious enough for Jesse to even despise the kid, and that's a pretty hard thing to accomplish. He wiggles around a bit more on the bed, trying to get comfortable, but knows in the back of his mind that he won't be happy until he's got his fuzzy pajama pants on, and one of Lint's oversized hoodies. Still, he remains horizontal, the pot slowly taking its toll on him. "That actually wouldn't be a bad idea, Kellen. We could take the money and use it for ghost hunting supplies. Sell the nudes as a series and call it NessPorn." Totally ignoring how Tim would not stand for that, at all, Jesse starts to laugh at his own idea and really, he probably doesn't need many friends - the kid amuses himself enough as is.

Hearing Mike moving about, he cranes his neck to look up at the boy, but doesn't argue his departure; they won't get to continue their talk now that Kellen is back, and Jess is starting to get sleepy, anyways. Or at least very high. He waves goofily. "Ciao, Mike!"


Jay: Kellen only smiles for Ness' words, waving in an overly friendly manner as he leaves the room. He snorts for Jesse's plan, not able to stop a slight laugh from coming out, though he doesn't go into one of his usual giggling fits because his stomach still hurts too much for that. "Definitely. I bet we could even get a few buyers in advance. You'd want some, yeh?" This last is directed to Malachi, who rolls his eyes in exasperation, but dimples in a smile he tries to hold back.

"Oh, certainly. Especially if they're signed." He manages to sound entirely sincere, which makes Kellen laugh more. With that accomplished, Mal stands up. "I had better get back to my room, too. But I think I'll be able to come to your guitar class tomorrow; I'm only an office aide that period." Containing his mirth to a grin, Kellen nods, also standing. "Excellent. Look forward to it." Mal's leave-taking isn't overly affectionate, but Kellen does give him a loud kiss on the cheek, and Malachi offers Jesse another warm smile and a wave as he exits.


Jackie: Jesse grins a little bit for that interaction, because he can't at all see Mal being interested in such photos, but maybe he would buy a few, if only because Kellen took them. He waves as the other boy departs, giving him an equally warm smile, and then slithers to the edge of the bed so he can get to his feet and shuffle over to his dresser, where he can retrieve his comfy clothes. He doesn't see that kiss, but definitely hears it, and again his nose wrinkles; he busies himself with slipping into his pajamas, and then crawling back into bed.

Not long after that, Tim slinks his way back up to his dorm room, passing Malachi on the way. Of course, the younger boy gives him the warmest smile and Tim forces one back, but doesn't linger in the hallway to chat. Instead, he makes it to his room and slips through the door, closing it quietly - he maybe thinks the room is empty, since it's quiet, and Ness hardly does homework, at least not at this time. So when he turns around to make it towards his side of the room, he sees Michael hunched over a text book, sitting at his desk, and startles a little bit. But it passes quickly, and Tim instead bee lines to his bed, tugging off his sweatshirt in the process. He knows better than to remain completely silent, but he's also exhausted and drained and medicated, so he only gets out a very simple "Hey" as he gets that hoodie off.


Jay: The fact that Jesse assumes Malachi wouldn't enjoy pornographic photos probably says more about Jesse's innocence than it does Mal's, but at least he doesn't come across as too much of a nymphomaniac. Kellen also changes into a comfortable t-shirt and pair of loose pajama pants, then ambles over to have a last cigarette before bed. Once Jesse is settled, he addresses him: "I was thinkin, since my birthday was such a bust, mebbe we'll gather somewhere tomorrow night. Leech is on the schedule for dorm checks, so I'm sure he wouldn' mind overlooking it as long as we didn't get caught by anyone else."

Tim enters so quietly that at first, Michael doesn't notice him, only becoming aware of the other boy's presence when he hears that sweatshirt being removed. Straightening up from his math book, he looks over at Tim, noticing that his vacant demeanor hasn't changed. "Hey. How was your meeting?" It's not too hard to make this sound a casual question, luckily; nothing in Mike's tone gives away his newly gained knowledge of why Tim needs those counseling meetings so often.


Jackie: Jesse nestles into his bed much in the same way a cat would, or perhaps a very particular dog; he doesn't exactly circle around the blankets, but he does tuck one around himself, burrito style, and only falls to the side, facing Kellen, when he's completely wrapped in it - save for his face. He definitely looks high, but not completely fucked up, and he grins an adorable, lazy grin for that suggestion. "That would be fun. Maybe like, in the band room. We could all hang out. Oh! And we could maybe invite Lars. He said he had a belated birthday present for you, anyways."

Once at his bed, Tim tosses his sweatshirt to the side, near his closet and starts working on the buttons of his dress shirt. He doesn't face Michael when the boy starts talking to him, but he does shrug for the question, only verbally answering once he's got that other shirt off, and is working on his belt. "As good as expecte, I guess. Things all right here?" Mostly, he's referring to the terror twins next door; with it being so quiet, he suspects that they've tuckered themselves out, but the silence could also be a bad sign. Kicking off his pants, Tim doesn't bother with folding them nicely - unusual, for him - and instead grabs at his comforter, pulling it back so he can crawl in.


Jay: Kellen grins slightly for Jesse's peculiar way of tucking himself in, despite having seen it many times before it still amuses him. Unsurprisingly, the remark about Lars distracts him. "Oh does he? That sounds promising, though I was happy with the one he already gave me." Presumably, referring to the half-joking birthday kiss Lars gave him while visiting the hospital. Kellen takes a drag, ashing his cigarette out the window before going on. "Yeh, we could give him a call tomorrow during lunch mebbe, see if he's free. Have Hollywood come, too...and mebbe Jade, if he isn't too cool for us. Not sure where to go, though..."

Facing forward again, Michael gives a grunt of acknowledgment for Tim's reply, mixed with a tiny bit of sympathy for the hours spent in counseling. He manages to sound distracted when he speaks, a little belatedly. "Oh...yeah, fine. Kellen disappeared with Malachi - I guess they were in the guitar room playing with Jade and Leech; Jesse went to the library for a while, and we hung out after he got back."


Jackie: Jesse snorts for that question, because it's to be expected, and for some reason he doesn't get jealous for Kellen's obvious attraction to Lars - maybe because it's so easy to understand, and the older boy is his friend. "Yeah. He wouldn't tell me what it was, though. Pretty sure that kiss was a present for himself, anyways." Which is maybe true - Lars did spend the rest of the day with a dopey half grin on his face. Yawning, Jesse hides his face into his pillow, so that he isn't yawning directly at Kellen, and then talks lazily, closing his eyes as he rests his head on the pillow, but obviously not sleeping properly, yet. "Not the band room? Oh! Maybe that little hideaway room you have. Nobody would find us, at least."

Nodding when he's assured that the boys next door are all good, even though his concern mostly lies with Jesse (since he still hasn't cleared the air with Kellen), Tim crawls into his bed, under the blankets, and fluffs his pillow before laying down completely. He faces away from Michael, curling up on his side, and doesn't bother with any more conversation. He just says a quiet "'Night." before burrowing into his pillow, attempting to close off everything in favor of sleeping.


Jay: Finishing his cigarette, Kellen tosses it out the window then cranks that window closed, crossing to his bed after turning off the overhead light. He gives a faint snort of amusement, but doesn't pursue the conversation about Lars, probably not wanting to seem too hooked on the guy. "Nah, band room's on the first floor, someone might walk by even if it is out of the way." Shoving his blankets back, Kellen crawls beneath them, humming consideringly. "Wellll...that might work. I dunno, though; if too many people know about that room, soon everyone'll know about it, and then the staff - the rest of the staff, I mean - will find out about it, too." Because naturally, Leech already knows of its existence. "Mebbe one'a the other buildings? Jus' not the chapel."

Even if Tim's been distant, Mike's still a bit surprised by that terse end to their conversation, enough that he raises his head to look at Tim in bewilderment. But Tim has already turned away, so Mike lets loose a very little sigh and goes back to his work. "Night, kitten." However, a few moments of work prove that he's incapable of focusing on it, and he gives it up. Closing his books and turning off his desk lamp, he heads for the bathroom and a quick shower before bed.


Jackie: Jesse's eyebrows furrow inward in thought, and he makes a little humming noise as well; it'd be a shame for that small room to be ruined, since Kellen uses it as a retreat so often. He blinks open his eyes when he hears the boy settling onto his own bed, and he has one of those sleepy grins on his face as he squirms in tighter around himself. "That's a good idea. We should ask Leech. He probably has a good suggestion."

As he tries to make himself comfortable in his bed, Tim's back muscles tense a bit for Michael's response - not that it's a bad one, but it does remind Tim of how stand-offish he's been, and he very nearly rolls over and apologizes. But he doesn't, because that's the thing with this sort of mood; even though he may recognize his short comings, Tim can't do anything to fix them - is too drained and exhausted to do anything but sleep. He listens to Michael continue his work, and then step off into the bathroom, and he sighs to himself - the guilt and wanting are rooted in his gut, and he knows he won't find sleep with them still there.


Jay: Kellen's eyes droop partially closed, well relaxed by the weed and, finally, comfortable enough that he doesn't even notice the stitched wound on his belly. Initially considering the problem of a location, his mind wanders off on other paths until Jesse's words draw his attention. "Ah? Ahh, yeh, yer right. He's got a lotta practice avoiding people here."

Taking a shower even shorter than normal, because the best he can figure to do is sleep and hope that things are different in the morning, Michael emerges from the bathroom with a towel, which he isn't wearing of course, but is using to scrub his hair dry - it's longer than he usually wears it, which accounts some for the way he's been lazily combing it back rather than wearing it standing straight up, lately. Seeing Tim still facing the wall, Mike doesn't speak, letting Tim pretend to sleep if he likes, and instead only tossing the towel into a dirty clothes hamper and heading for his own bed.


Jackie: Making a little affirmative noise for that, Jesse snuggles in closer to himself, all warm and high and content for the time being. Unlike his friend in the other room, he certainly won't have difficulty finding sleep, and talks around another yawn. "Yeah, exactly. He probably knows which rooms don't get checked every night, too." Finishing that yawn, he presses his face into his pillow harder, sounding even younger than he really is. "Night night, Kell."

As his room mate showers, Tim remains in his bed, motionless save for gnawing on his cheek. He knows he isn't being fair, and is probably confusing the hell out of Michael, given that he was just sucking on his neck the night before, but he can't seem to find much rationality behind his behavior, right now. So he doesn't join the boy in the bathroom, or turn around when he reemerges a few minutes later. Instead, he just shifts a little bit and lets out a little sigh - the noise making it obvious that he isn't asleep, but he still doesn't try to talk to Mike.


Jay: Kellen hums in agreement, vaguely wondering if maybe he should go down and see his brother, make sure he's all right - but no, he's too comfortable here, and Leech would probably only be irritated by the attention. Blinking his eyes half-open, and not remembering closing them at all, he glances over at the Jesse burrito fondly. "G'night, Jesseface."

Mike is most definitely confused, although Jesse's slip-up did offer some explanation for Tim's behavior; but given that Michael isn't one to quietly tuck his emotions away under most circumstances, he's still a little bewildered. Regardless, he crawls under the blankets and makes a serious effort to just empty his mind and go to sleep. This would be easier if his roommate wasn't so obviously still awake, too, but he does his best to ignore that, hoping that Tim feels comfortable enough with him to join him anytime he wants to.

His mind is still active, if disjointedly, an hour or so later, but smoking some of Kellen's weed (not to mention imbibing in his own poisons) has him at least nearing the brink of sleep when the assigned staff member starts doing lights-out dorm checks. The opening of the door is brings Mike back to awareness, instinctively tensing, but he's been here long enough to not immediately hop out of bed looking for intruders; he just squints at the door, making out the form of some priest before the man closes it and moves on.


Jackie: There are a few instances where Tim is close to falling asleep, but there's always something that draws him away; first, there's a thump from the other dorm room, which ends up being one of Jesse's books he stacked too high, and then there's a slamming of a door further down the hallway - obviously another student scampering to make the last dorm check. Lastly, it's the slow, quiet creaking of his own dorm's door opening, and judging by the quiet five seconds that follows it, Tim knows it's one of the priests, checking on the students. Once the room is encased in darkness again, Tim shifts more, curling into himself and sighing quietly, because all he wants to do is fall asleep and shove away the yearning he has to crawl in close to Michael, apologize, and seek affection.


Jay: Once the door is closed, Mike turns his somewhat bleary gaze towards Tim's bed just in time to catch that muted sigh. A large part of him wants to grab the other boy by the shoulders, shake him, and ask him what the fuck he thinks he's doing; luckily, Mike does at least know better than that, he knows that it wouldn't get a good response even if he were feeling energetic enough to do it. He isn't energetic enough to do much of anything, but if he spends the rest of the night like this, he'll be much more tired in the morning, and maybe Tim will be, too.

So he gives up on giving the other boy space, sitting up and crawling out of bed. He moves carefully across the room, but doesn't try for total silence since he doesn't want to startle Tim. Reaching that other bed, he settles himself on the edge of it leaning towards the blanket-swathed form, and cautiously rests a hand against his back, speaking barely above a whisper. "Tim? I'm cold. Can I sleep with you?" He just blatantly ignores that the obvious solution would be to put on some clothes, since he isn't actually cold, but it makes a passable excuse and he doesn't much care if Tim recognizes it as an excuse.


Jackie: At first, Tim doesn't hear Michael getting out of bed, since he's shifting a bit on his own mattress, trying to find that special positioning that'll make him comfortable enough to fall asleep. But eventually, those quiet footsteps enter his ears, and Tim stops moving in favor of listening, trying to decipher if those steps are getting closer, or are heading off in the direction of the bathroom. He assumes it's the latter, given how he's basically shoved the boy away for the past 36 hours, but then his bed is shifting, and there's a gentle hand on his back, and Tim immediately squirms, looking blearily over his shoulder. He can make out Mike's form vaguely, but not much else - his eyes not yet adjusted to the dark room - and he doesn't even question those words because he doesn't feel the need to; the end result will still be Michael crawling up next to him. And almost immediately he gives in, making a little affirmative noise accompanied with an 'Of course', all while he shifts onto his back and starts to work the blankets out from under him, so he can welcome Michael in.


Jay: Normally, Mike would feel some sort of triumph when the other boy gives in so easily, but for the time being he's only relieved. He shifts on the bed, rising momentarily to help Tim unravel those blankets, then as soon as he can he lifts them to slide underneath, immediately inching in close to Tim and draping an arm over his waist, only then replying, still in that quiet voice. "Thanks, kitten."


Jackie: It's pretty alarming just how quickly Timothy dissolves around this boy, how swiftly that voice and that scent makes Tim instantly, unquestionably want him - even beyond intimacy, and tip toeing into possessive. Working those blankets around Michael's form, Timothy only resettles down into the mattress once the other boy is covered, and instead of turning his back to him again, he shifts to face him, but keeps his face ducked in towards his pillows. He, too, slinks an arm around Mike's waist, his hand gently moving up and down his side in a slow attempt to warm his skin, and when he talks, it's equally as quiet. "Next time, don't ask."


Jay: Pleased with how quickly Tim moves closer, Michael turns onto his side, tightening the arm around him slightly. He smiles a bit for those words, unseen in the dark with Tim's head ducked beneath his, and his free hand slips beneath the other boy's neck, rubbing at the muscles of the nape lightly. "I didn't want to bother you. Seemed like you wanted to be alone." He manages to make this sound casual, without any hint of accusation or hurt, but he's definitely remembering that advice.


Jackie: When he's able to snuggle in closer and nuzzle his face into the top of Michael's shoulder instead of the pillow, Tim lets out a quiet little exhale, silently grateful for this because it's something he truly needs, right now. His hand continues to rub up and down Mike's side softly, the action slow enough to be more of a comfort, than an actual attempt to warm his skin. Intended or not, those words do sting, but mostly because Tim knows they're true; his random bursts of retraction can only be confusing to Michael, especially when they're spliced in between their moments of affection and intimacy. He doesn't lift his head when he talks, but does sound a little more awake."You won't." Pressing his nose into Mike's shoulder, he breathes him in deeply, immediately warming on the inside for the familiar scent. A touch quieter, he adds: "The answer is always going to be yes." Meaning, of course, that Mike doesn't need to bother with questioning - that Tim is always going to want him in bed, and probably more than that. And the fact that it's so incredibly true keeps Tim quiet after saying it.


Jay: As Tim nuzzles closer, Mike slips that arm farther beneath his neck then folds it back on itself to make a sort of pillow - since he's more or less taken over Tim's actual pillow - and the opposite arm continues tightening against his back. Oddly, those words make Mike flush, and he's extremely glad for the darkness as he feels the wave of warmth crawling over his neck and along his jaw. He hums, to show his pleasure for the promising words, but doesn't reply directly - it would be too easy to give away the information he accidentally gleaned from Jesse if he responded in anything but a joking matter, and he doesn't want to ruin the intimacy with a joke. So instead he just cocks his head to the side, drawing back enough to reach Tim's mouth. Initially, he only catches the side of it, but readjusts easily, pressing his lips against Tim's without demanding entrance past them or attempting to coerce anything but a kiss from the other boy.


Jackie: Almost immediately after saying that, Tim flushes and presses his face in harder against Mike's shoulder in a vain attempt to hide it, because the amount of vulnerability in his words is too much. The increased nuzzling brings him in closer to that neck, and he feels the flush there - it matches his own - and instead of feeling better for it, he feels even more embarrassed. Lucky for him, Michael is then pressing down towards his mouth, and Tim puckers his lips to react to the initially soft, side swept kiss. But as soon as he feels those lips against his own, Tim also crooks his head, bringing their mouths more directly together as he covers Michael's lower lip with both of his. This of course causes a quiet whimper to rumble in the younger boy's throat, but he doesn't pull away; instead, he just lets the kiss continue, but he doesn't immediately try to deepen or intensify it.


Jay: When that kiss is welcomed and returned so easily, most of the remaining tension (at least, the unpleasant kind) leaves Mike's body, and he gives a soft moan in response to Tim's own whimper, remaining where he is for a few long moments before drawing back. But not very far back; he presses his forehead to Tim's, keeping his eyes mostly shut, while the fingers of his right hand move in small, gentle circles against the other boy's back. He can tell that Tim's uncomfortable with his own words - even if they're true - so for both of their sakes, he thinks a slight change of topic is in order. "Noticed Tony didn't say anything about hickeys in class today." Actually, the obnoxious blond hadn't said much at all in class today, which was vastly appreciated by everyone, even if he did try to kill Michael with his eyes for most of the period.


Jackie: Although encouraged by that quiet moan, Tim doesn't try to deepen the kiss - is probably still internally fretting over his earlier words. But he does lean into Mike's retreating mouth, just to keep the kiss for a fraction of a second longer, before drawing back to press his forehead into Michael's, as well. He slowly blinks his eyes open, but can't make out much of the gorgeous features he knows are right in front of him; instead, he just looks at the dark shadows across Mike's face, while his muscles relax under those working fingers. That observation makes him let out a short snort, amused, and he flicks his gaze down to the other boy's neck - he can't see the bruise he knows is there, but that's mostly due to positioning. Still, he slides a hand down to lightly run a few fingertips along Mike's warming skin, somewhere in the vicinity of the bruise. "We should thank my messy closet, huh?"


Jay: Michael's mouth twitches into an irrepressible smirk for those words, his fingers still moving over Tim's back thoughtlessly. "Oh, I dunno. You probably could've told him exactly what happened - shown him a video, even - and he still would've claimed it was someone else, if you hadn't given him...that demonstration." If he sounds a little smug about said demonstration, at least it isn't too overpowering. "Maybe if you give him a little more evidence, he'll stay quiet for the rest of the semester. I'm sure Jade and Kellen would be grateful to you." It's reasonably obvious that Mike doesn't actually care about Jade and Kellen suffering Tony's presence; more likely, he just enjoys other people seeing himself and Tim being affectionate.


Jackie: This time, Tim's snort is accompanied with a brief little smirk, because it's entirely true - even if Tim has fallen for Tony's traps of making Mike out to be a slut, that was a while ago, and Tim is starting to realize that his room mate isn't venturing into any other beds. The mention of his 'demonstration' definitely makes Tim flush again, and his fingers press in against the bruised skin on Mike's neck gently, having located the general area of the suspicious looking mark. "Don't think he liked that, too much." Understatement, of course. The additional suggestion maybe gets taken in a different way, because Tim makes a little noise of consideration and then moves his mouth down again, seeking out the boy's warm skin with it and replacing his lips with his fingers. At first, it's gentle kissing - soft sucking and mouthing at the skin, not enough to bruise, but he also isn't moving away - and surely any additional attention to the sensitive skin is going to darken the bruise there.


Jay: Of course, Tony's attacks are sort of justified, since Mike is a slut. On the other hand, it's certainly true that he hasn't been with anyone else at all for the past couple of months, and hopefully that will speak for itself the longer it goes on. When Tim's fingers press against that bruise, he flinches slightly, but doesn't seem to strictly mind the hint of pain.

Giving a quiet, breathy laugh, barely more than a snort, for that understatement, Mike moves his head away from Tim's enough to nod. "No, pretty sure he wanted to kill me on the spot." Nor was he the only one; he wasn't exactly paying attention, but over the course of the day, Mike did notice one or two other boys staring at him with reproachful, injured expressions, mostly freshman and sophomores he used to flirt with. Nothing serious, really, but just to sorta keep in practice. He might be about to continue, but as soon as he gets his own mouth open, Tim's attaches to his neck, and instead he just inhales sharply, the fingers against Tim's back ceasing to move and curling against the skin, pressing more firmly.


Jackie: Were his mouth not otherwise occupied, Tim would maybe chirp in amusement, because it's definitely true; even long after the incident, Tony looked ready to slaughter Michael, and was even shooting pointed glares at Timothy throughout the day. But instead of interrupting his own actions, Tim keeps mouthing at that bruise, the intensity behind his lips growing in increments until it's obvious that he's trying to work on making that bruise from his mouth, and not his over cluttered closet.

Sucking more intently on the flesh, and encouraged by the fingers on his neck, Tim squirms to get in closer to Mike's form, the arm he has rubbing at the boy's side taking full advantage of the expanse of available skin. He skims callused fingers down below Mike's hips before retreating back up towards his ribs, repeating this path over and over again as he mouths at that pretty neck.


Jay: It's safe to say that Michael is completely losing his train of thought, so even if Tim did reply in some way, he would probably take a moment to remember what he was replying to. With what he learned today, Mike had been very nobly suppressing his own instincts and intended only to offer comfort to the other boy, but if things happen to go in a different direction, he certainly isn't about to complain. Feeling the gradual increase of suction, he gives a melodic moan that comes out more loudly than the previous ones, due to his still partially open mouth. The fingers moving heavily down his sides cause him to shiver pleasantly, murmuring a quiet "Jesus, Tim" and, as soon as the shiver passes, his hand slides further around Tim's waist to let his forearm clutch compulsively along the small of his back, forcing their bodies as close as is possible in the current position.


Jackie: The noises Michael makes any time the two of them are intimate always serve as encouragement for Tim to continue doing whatever it is that he's doing, and this time is no different. Certainly, he noticed the looks some of the lowerclass boys were giving Michael throughout the day, but instead of causing jealousy in Timothy, it invoked smugness - and maybe he's starting to understand, more and more, why people become possessive. With those thoughts in the back of his mind, and his room mate's obvious approving words, Tim keeps at it, eventually sucking hard enough to pull the taut skin more fully into his mouth, where he then nips at it gently, teasingly. He, too, lets a small moan rumble in his throat, and he presses himself harder against Mike's form, enough to where he can press Michael onto his back and lean into him, still with his head ducked down into his neck. Perhaps it's a little more forward than is typical from Timothy, but he's spurred on by Mike joining him in bed (which is incredibly endearing, Tim recognizes), and for his own need of a distraction, and perhaps even to an extent, by Kellen's obvious disapproval - although he'd never say that out loud.


Jay: In his semi-drugged state, it's too easy for Mike to zone out, forgetting everything except for the body pressed against his and the mouth at his neck, certainly forgetting any reasons he has to be covert (if there actually are any), so those noises come often, in fact they rarely ever totally stop. He does return to something more like awareness when Tim pushes against him, and his eyes snap open but he easily follows the implied direction, rolling onto his back and keeping that arm around Tim's back firm enough to be certain that he follows along.

He gives a lower noise, almost a growl, when Tim's weight bears down on his body, and his hips squirm slightly of their own accord in appreciation for the friction there. Certainly, this is more bold than he's used to his roommate being - at least, at the start of things; Tim's usually pretty abandoned by the end of it - but there is absolutely no room for complaint. Mike rolls his head to the side to expose more of his neck while his right hand nudges the material away from that back to slip beneath it. But before much longer, this isn't enough, so he raises his free hand to cup the nape of Tim's neck and gently detach him, simultaneously ducking his own head so he can meet the other boy's mouth as soon as it's free, and this time there's nothing chaste about the kiss at all.

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