8. There’s No Place Like Home

Screenshot-602“Are you okay?! I heard a thump, sorry I just stepped out to make a call.” As I pulled myself up to my feet I turned to see a petite Fae woman in scrubs standing in the doorway.

Screenshot-605“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Seems like I just rolled out of bed. Where the hell am I anyway?”

“On base, your dad brought you here after he couldn’t get you to wake up a couple days ago. I think he’d still be here himself but things are a bit of a mess so I said I’d keep an eye on you.”

“A couple days ago? Seriously?! I just passed out for a nap after my sister’s birthday.”

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“Yeah after he gave you one of his test batches, I guess you had a bad reaction he wasn’t expecting. He shouldn’t have done that anyway, pretty stupid if you ask me. He’s always been so logical with everything in my experience so I don’t understand why he did that.”

“What was he testing anyway?”

“Oh it’s just supposed to be a strong anti-depressant to help treat some of the longer enlisted Katarat officers. After a few centuries even a good clean doesn’t seem to help them much when the are cycled back into service. Often they have weird dreams about their previous deaths or things they did in their life they may not have agreed with.”

“Well that’s what they get for recycling.”

Screenshot-615“Better than a draft though and they take care of their own. If a serviceman isn’t ultimately fit even despite their best efforts, he or she is offered the option to retire and finish out his or her life in comfort.”

“Yeah but how far gone are they before they resort to that?”

“I’m not at liberty to say to be honest, I don’t handle that rehab as I’m merely an experimental naturist and I’m not even technically with the government, I’m outside contractor. I just really cared about this project, oh well. Doesn’t really matter now, because of your dad now I’m out of a job.”

Screenshot-609“What why? Is my dad in trouble cause of this?”

“Yeah he’s up for review for ethics and currently on house arrest until further notice.”

“Seriously?! So he could go to prison?”

“I don’t think that’s likely given you’re his progeny. Most likely he’ll be dishonorably discharged and his licenses revoked which for someone like your dad is pretty much the end of his professional life. I’m sorry, it’s really quite a shame, he is really brilliant and could do a lot of good if they’d give him another chance. Anyway,  I should notify his superiors that you are conscious again. I’ll need to run some tests to make sure you’re clear to go home but you seem fine so I’d guess you’ll be okay to go to your mother’s house shortly. Don’t worry though, I’m sure everything will work out, okay?”

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“Why can’t I just go home? I really would rather not stay with my mother, seriously you don’t know what she’s like. My dad may have made a stupid decision but I’m an adult and I’m pretty sure I can handle myself around him.”

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“Very well but you should know that he’s under very strict guard so every time you come and go you’ll be subject to scrutiny. He does seem very lonely though since his wife left him so I’m sure he’d appreciate the company. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be just a few moments. I need to speak with Commander Mitchell and my contacts on Prime. If you need anything in the meantime my name is Dr. Shilo.”

While I waited for the good doctor to get back I thought about everything she had told me. Had Morgan really left my dad because of this? Seems kind of an extreme reaction considering how long they had been together. I never felt sick or in danger but at the same time what if I never woke up? What would have happened then? For some reason I was feeling a tremendous amount of guilt over the whole situation. I didn’t like my dad being alone because of me, even if the reason was really of his own making.

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“Why does everything always feel like it’s my fault?”

“I don’t know maybe try not being such a damn nihilist man.”

Screenshot-621“Tidus! Shit it’s good to see a familiar face. I’m guessing you’re part of the detail watching my dad?”

“Actually no, I’m too close to the situation being engaged to your sister but I’m gonna take you back home before I head out for a mission I have scheduled. You should know though things are pretty fucked up right now.”

“Yeah I gathered with Morgan leaving and all.”

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“It’s not just that, they revoked your dad’s parental rights and the government took Skye and Hawk into protective custody because of her association with me. They’re on their way to Prime now to stay with my parents. Don’t worry, they are a little cracked but good people, they’ll be alright. Your half brother is with your step-mom, she’s being relocated off world somewhere he won’t know and who the fuck knows what’s going on with Del. She keeps disappearing for long hours at a time from your mom’s house and has now been missing four about six hours in this instance. No one really is looking into it though since she’s an adult and should be able to manager herself. On the bright side though your sister Nova seems in a pretty damn pleasant mood, chalking this whole situation up to Maddox getting what he deserved.”

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“I can’t really blame her the way he’s been treating her as of late.”

“Ditto man, so you ready to go home? You’ll find the old man in a sour state no doubt. I haven’t seen him since they activated me but I hear he’s being quite difficult. Like not eating or sleeping kind of difficult.”

“What a surprise.”Screenshot-624

“Right? Hopefully having you there will soften him up a bit. My comrade in arms heading up the op says he asks about your status several times a day and that he’s claiming he won’t end his hunger strike until he sees you again. I’m starting to feel kind of bad for him, he clearly didn’t mean for this to happen, I think he was just trying to help your depression since you’ve in in the outs since grad.”

“See now my guilt feels justified.”

“Still not your fault though, you can’t always help the way you feel. You’re one of the best people I know Bass and the fact that you feel this way about your dumb ass dad only adds to your credit. That’s just my dinary anyway. C’mon, how about we get out of this shithole? Bet you’re looking forward to checking your phone, my buddy said it’s been going off the hook but they won’t let your dad answer it.”

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“Oh shit Angela is probably wondering where I am. Fuck she probably thinks I just blew her off.”

“I’m sure someone relayed back to her what’s up, not like she doesn’t have family here and most of our friends know what’s going on. At least to some degree anyway.”

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“Still.. I hope everything is okay.”

 

7. Am I wake? (Part Two)

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“I hate this idea Layne, he’s already got enough of that dark matter cycling through him.”

“Oh relax Joss, clearly he’s fine and I’ve gotten pretty good at anchoring the last couple years.”

“You say that but we have no idea what his dna structure is, he could have a stronger li-”

“Will you stop your fussing? He’s still just a kid, there’s no way his link to the void is stronger than mine.  I’ll cut the connection if he goes unstable. Just focus boys, I know we can do this.”

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“You know I’m happy to help you guys and all if I can but I’m not exactly clear on what we’re doing here. Why do you need my dad here?” I cut into their conversation as I tried to concentrate like Layne had showed me. The entire situation felt completely foreign and in a way very off-putting. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, in fact I was surprised how comfortable I felt around Layne and Joss given I had never met them or creatures like them before in my life.

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As soon as introductions were out of the way Layne immediately began probing me for answers about my family, if I had any siblings, and what my parents were like. She seemed kind of hurt at the thought that my dad had so many other kids. I didn’t really know what to say, I mean I wasn’t even sure I should be telling her all that but she insisted that we were related so my family is her family I guess.

“Oh hey I have an idea! Let’s try this, I had read it in an old book once but since it doesn’t work on Vamillion there was no point in testing it on Joss.” She said as enthusiastically grabbing my hand.

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“Okay sure, so what is it supposed to do?”

“It supposed to let me look into your memories for a limited span of time. Our family used to do this as a means of catching up after long periods of being apart. It sounds kind of neat, I hope it works the way I think it does.”

“Wait what kind of memories can you see?!”

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“Oh wow you’re kind of a perv aren’t you?”

“I.. er..”

“Relax I live with two men, it’s kind of hard to avoid after a few years. I totally walked in on Joss once when we were still  teenagers and he couldn’t look at me for a week without turning red.”

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“Oh okay.. well I hope you find what you’re looking for in there. My dad says he doesn’t think there’s anything in there half the time.”

“Seems like he’s kind of a dick to you.”

“Eh I deserve it, I kind of have been slacking off.”

Layne’s brow wrinkled, “He hasn’t made it easy on you though and honestly I’m not sure how I feel about what I’m seeing here. His reactions to things seem all over the place. Ah well thanks for letting me take a peek anyway.”

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“No problem I guess and yeah he can be really hard to read most of the time. Especially when it comes to family stuff. I mean I only found out he had sisters like yesterday.”

“Oh yeah we have a bunch of aunts, dad was the middle of eight kids, six girls and two boys. Nani Re had two sets of triplets, isn’t that just mind boggling? TWO! I can’t say I’m surprised he never talks about his family, I don’t think he cared much for them. He seemed to love grandma and Aunt Brynna based on things Ashe has told me but could do without the rest. I know for a fact he has a seething hatred of our grandfather though.”

“Really? My  mom said they got along fine at their wedding.”

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“Hah there’s no way whoever your mom met was the real Papa Bryn, he died forever ago. Like seriously that was before either Joss or I were born.”

“I-I-don’t understand. Then how is it even possible he was there? I’ve seen pictures. They look like they’d be his parents and everything.”

“Yeah well there’s a lot of things in my life I can’t explain away either so let’s just try to get him here and sort it out. What do you say? You think you can help me do that?”

“Well I guess, what do we need to do?”

And that’s how I found myself sitting on the dingy floorboards chanting and meditating with this alleged half-sister of mine. As weird as this all was I still wasn’t completely convinced this wasn’t all simply a strange dream.

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“Layne, I really think you should stop. I am getting a really awful feeling about doing this. His energy levels are starting to fluctuate pretty rapidly”

“Just hold on Joss, I think I can at least get a location based on his link.”

“Layne we don’t know what will happen if this isn’t naturally interrupted, your consciousness could end up here or there or someplace in between. I’m just saying.”

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“Don’t listen to the resident pessimist Bastian, just keep your mind focused on home. Think of your family and friends, things that will settle your spirit.”

That was not the right thing to say. If anything I was more comfortable here in my skin than I had ever been at home. As I could feel the usual wave of insecurity rush over me I started to lose focus on what I was doing.

“Layne he’s losing void energy now, I think he’s gonna drop.”

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“Alright, alright.” Layne finally conceded as I could feel her strange aura tapering out of the room, “Bastian, I think we’re going to lose you soon. Whatever brought you seems to be fading off, just don’t forget us okay?! Please?! I’ll find you, even if it takes like forever. Just know you aren’t alone and you’re totally not as worthless as you think you are! At least not naturally. I think he did something to you.”

“Wait what?!”

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As lost my concentration I hit the floor hard. What did she mean by that exactly? Was everything foolish I had done in my life as a result of something my father had done to me? I wasn’t able to ask for clarification though because before I could say much of anything I found myself presumably back home with my face planted flat on an unfamiliar concrete floor.

Screenshot-602“What the fuck was all that?” 

———————————————————-

6. Am I Awake? (Part One)

Screenshot-89“Hail to my ancestors, who fought for my right to life.” 

Screenshot-109“Hail to Kasar, long gone but not forgotten.” 

Screenshot-106“Hail to the Void, the true source of my existence. Your humble servant beseeches you.” 

Screenshot-92“This is seriously the exact definition of insanity you know.”

“Quiet! I’m not done with the incantation!”

“How many times have we tried to do this now? We should get on with our lives.”

Screenshot-110“What fucking life are you referring to?! This is it man! Did you forget everything we’ve seen? Everything we’ve been through?! This is the only way we can have real lives and you know it.”

“No it’s not, there are probably other places we can go.”

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“Where?! Everyone else thought the same and you know what? So far every supposed safe-haven was nothing but a graveyard. If it wasn’t for the wards here those Vamillion dicks would have been on us decades ago. Our only chance is to get him back and make him fix things.”

“We don’t know if he’s even alive Layne. It’s been like four hundred years since you last saw him. I mean it’s really likely my dad -”

“I know what you’re saying Joss but there’s no way he’s dead, I just know it. He said he’d make things right and he meant it. I just have to believe in that.”

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“Then why did he leave? Why did he take off again without saying anything? I know you want to think of your dad as some indestructible genius but fuck just look at the facts. He’s was probably just as lost as we are now.”

“He left for a reason and I know he’s still out there so when we find him we’ll all sort everything out together.”

“Layne please don’t do this to yourself again.”

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________________________________________________________________

Screenshot-115“What is with this place?”  I thought to myself as I carefully navigated around broken steps and derelict hardwood. “Am I awake?”

With every step the sound of dust raining down and wood clamping made my stomach turn. “This is suspiciously starting to feel like the beginning of one of those falling dreams.”

“Oh will shut up, you think entirely too damn loud.” Without warning a man approached me at the foot of the landing, “and where the fuck did you come from anyway huh?”

Screenshot-116“Well this is an odd dream.”

Screenshot-117“Dream?”

“Ashe? What’s going on up there?” A girl’s voice called up from down below.

“I’m not really sure.”

“Should we come up there?”

“Nah we’ll come down, I don’t know if the landing can support all of us.” The man called Ashe than turned to me, “Follow close if you don’t wanna break your neck.”

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Still confused I followed closely, “This dream is really real, I wonder what dad put in that pill…”

“It’s not a dream, you’re projecting.”

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“What?”

“You keep calling this a dream but you’re actually projecting from somewhere else. Once of my cousins can do that, kind of rare for our kind actually. It generally takes too much concentration and a stronger link to the Void than most people care to dare. He’s kind of an irresponsible nutbag though.”

“I’m not sure I’m following you, I went to bed like maybe a half hour ago. My dad kind of drugged me earlier today so I’m sure this is just a reaction to that.”

“Oh really? So you think that my whole life is nothing but someones drug induced hallucination?! That’s fucking rich kid, no one would wish this existence on anyone. You think you’re dreaming? If anything this is a nightmare so I were you I would really try to fucking wake up and leave us to our misery.”

Screenshot-132“Hey wha- holy shit. Who are you?!”

“Don’t get too excited Layne, he thinks we’re all just in his head.”

“Uhhh what?”

“You know the last few hundred years? Yeah that was just a horrible dream and we’re all gonna wake up someday in Haven still a happy family. Hell I bet my wife is there right now across the bay making my daughter that blackberry pie she wanted for her birthday.”Screenshot-138

“Ashe, he clearly doesn’t know what’s going on, no need to get snarky.”

“Just fucking look at him Joss. You can’t just project like that without knowing what you’re doing. I bet Maddox knows what you’re trying to do and is just fucking with us.”

“My dad wouldn’t do that.”

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“Fuck Layne for the last time you didn’t know him! He abandoned us to chase after that seacunt when you were still diapers. The guy is a monster, I don’t know why you seem to think he can do anything to help us. It’s his damn fault we are in this position.”

“It is not! Desmond tricked him and you know it!! He wouldn’t have even had to leave if your dad’s friend didn’t betray him and kidnap my mother.”

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“And what about you and your sisters Layne?! Huh?! What about his responsibilities as a father? If it wasn’t for Joss you’d be dead like the others and that is on his hands do you understand that?!”

“He made a hard choice, if you thought you could have saved your wife wouldn’t you have done it?!”

“Not at the expense of my daughter.” Ashe paused, “But I didn’t get that choice did I? They are both gone, just like everyone else but for some fucked up reason the three of us are still here. Enduring endlessly in misery, missing those we love never being able to move on for fear of my own father’s family hunting us down like vermin.”

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“Ashe, please just let Layne have her hope man.”

“You just always gotta side with her don’t you? Whatever, just fucking live in your pipe-dreams, I’m the only one here that has any damn sense.”

As I watched Ashe storm off I just stood in silence. I didn’t know what to say, everything felt so real there and his words so raw. How could this not be real? Why would my mind conceive of such things?

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“Sorry about my brother, he can be kind of difficult sometimes. He’s had a long time to simmer in his bitterness. I gather you probably caught all our names with that shouting but what can we call you?”

“Oh… umm.. Bastian.. er.”

“What is it?” Joss’ brow furrowed.

“I just thought of something weird.” I said scratching my head, “My middle name is Layne.”

“I told you he didn’t forget us.”

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5. Breakfast Cake

Screenshot-33After spending the morning with dad at the base we headed home on home for my sister Delora’s special birthday breakfast.  Breakfast cake had become kind of a tradition in our house since my dad and Morgan shacked up. I guess it was a thing back home for her so she wanted to share it with us. Before then we didn’t really make a big to do about birthdays. Nulnacts, that is the name of my mom’s people, have their own traditions in that way but since my parents split up she never really made an effort to indoctrinate us into her culture for some reason. My dad mostly didn’t bother with that kind of stuff, I don’t think he sees much value in parties and such.

Speaking of Dad was pretty quiet on the way, he seemed annoyed at the results of whatever experiment he was doing. I got the impression he wasn’t ready to leave but given how temperamental Del tended to be both of us knew we’d never hear the end of it if we were even the slightest bit late. As we pulled up in the drive a familiar but surprising figure stood outside waiting for us.

Screenshot-32“Well this is an unexpected treat, I thought it may be some time before we would see you again given your condition.” My father spoke up first with a snide tone in his voice.

“What am I not allowed to be here for my little sister? It’s not like you care about her so somebody has to.” Nova snapped back, “Besides I decided I’d rather be closer to home for when the baby comes, mom said I could stay with her so don’t worry I won’t fucking bother you for anything.”

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I guess it made sense that Nova wanted to be near family for when her kid came but I don’t know, after her last visit a few months back I’m not sure how I’d feel about dad if I was in her shoes. It’s kind of a shame actually they were on the outs, Nova and dad had always been so close but he was just cruel to her for really no good reason.

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“Maddox sweetheart I think you may be overreacting about this.” I heard Morgan’s voice reverberate down the narrow hall as I popped out of my room to see what the commotion was that warm autumn morning.

“How did this even occur?! You have shown nothing but a remarkable indifference to the opposite sex since deep into your adolescence. Is this what student retreats have devolved to? That trip was intended to be a recess from your studies! Not some festival to promote the mysteries of procreation.”

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“Would you stop yelling? It’s freaking me out. I don’t understand why you’re so angry. I know this sucks but at least I’m not a damn teenager. You didn’t even get this mad at Skye. What the fuck daddy?”

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“So much for sleeping in today, what’s going on?”

Screenshot-627“Oh didn’t you hear? Turns out the favorite got herself knocked up on that trip she took with Lena. Dad is super pissed.” Del eagerly let her mouth run.

“Seems like he’s being kind of a dick.”

“Bet you’re just glad to have the break huh?”

“Don’t be a bitch Del.”

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It was kind of weird he had been so angry. When he found out about Skye and Tidus he looked like he might strangle Ti but at least he’s treated Skye with kind indifference throughout. I guess he just felt like Nova should have known better and wasn’t handling it well.

“Okay Hawk now do what I taught you.” I begged the family runt while trying to maintain my balance through his wiggles.

“Hiiii Ann Noba!!”

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“Well look it how big you are now. It doesn’t take long does it?”

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“I know right? Just look at those strong little arms! Show Aunt Nova your muscles!”

“Grrr strrrron!!”

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“You know it’s going to be okay right?”

“Yeah I just thought dad wouldn’t be such an asshole about this. He hardly reacted when Skye got pregnant with Hawk.”

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“To be honest I don’t think he’s spoken to her at all since that happened. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it. He’s just disappointed but you know he loves you. At least that’s what I tell myself so I can face him every day.”

“I don’t understand why you’re still even here.”

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“This doesn’t have anything to do with Lauren does it?”

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“No. Fuck that girl. This has nothing to do with her. Nothing I do will ever have anything to do with her.”

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“Sorry you know I had to ask. I just couldn’t figure out why else you’d put up with dad.”

“I don’t know, I guess I just don’t have a lot of other options right now.” 

Screenshot-674Then she just left, she didn’t go back inside, she didn’t go visit mom like she promised. She just went back to Fairhaven and kept quiet until now.

“Well I suppose we wouldn’t want to keep your sister waiting then, come on in, make yourself at home. Just try not to go into labor, I’m sure Del wouldn’t appreciate the attention grab.” Dad finally said after several minutes of us awkwardly standing outside in full view of the rest of the family.

“I’ll try.” Nova replied clearly still very hurt over their previous exchange. “but you know babies do have a mind of their own.”

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“Yes, children do tend to go their own way despite your best efforts.”

“Dad is that necessary?” I finally cut in not wanting the whole mood of the event to turn sour. “Seriously let’s just go inside, have some cake, and act like we’re all happy for a day okay?”

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My dad just shrugged and grumbled under his breath before leading the way inside.

“Oh my gods Nova!!” Delora squealed and  ran to hug her but stopped short at the sight of her large belly, “Wait… you’re not gonna have that baby are you? Cause he is not stealing my birthday. I mean I’m kinda joking cause I know you can’t control it but not really cause that would suck if everyone just had to go to the hospital.”

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“Oh don’t worry I’m not due for another week and the MA who checked me last said I’ll probably go over cause the baby seemed pretty comfortable where it was.”

“Well good, I’m glad he won’t be interrupting my cake day!”

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“Can I ask you something Dell?”

“Sure!”

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“Why do you keep calling my baby ‘he’?”

“Oh you just seem like you’d have a boy is all. I mean could you imagine you with a daughter?! You hardly like being a girl yourself. Hell if you hadn’t gotten knocked up I would have thought you were a dike.”

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“Dell!”

“Wow Delora.” I laugh as I continued to eavesdrop from the comfort of the sofa.

Screenshot-50“No I mean I don’t mean it in a bad way, it’s a great thing! Everyone needs love! I don’t even subscribe to a sexual orientation myself. Not that I’ve ever been laid. I’m kind of curious though, what is that like? Dicks kinda look funny, do they feel funny too?”

“Shouldn’t we be having cake right now?”

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“Dammit Nova you’re right! What was I thinking? Promise me we can talk about this later though, probably more privately right?”

“Yeah I guess that’d be okay, at mom’s house?”

“It’s a date!” Delora cheered and turned to everyone, “Alright family, you know what time it is don’t you?!”

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“Cake time, whatever. Just blow out the damn candles already so we can eat.” Terran demanded.

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“Well yes but also it’s to celebrate me silly. ” Del corrected, “Some day, hopefully not far away, I will be a famous actress and I will never forget any of you, my beloved family in what will undoubtedly a record breaking rise to the top.”

“But Dell you haven’t even acted before in your life.” Skye interrupted.Screenshot-68

“Well no but I’m clearly a natural, at least my friends say so.”

“What friends? You mean Bastian’s friends you follow around all the time?”

“Shut up Skye, they’re my friends too. Zach said he’s gonna throw me one of his killer parties.”

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“Enough, please proceed with haste Delora J. If I have to hear any more of this drivel I will cancel any further celebratory events surrounding your birthday. There is no need for this, every one is quite famished you know.”  My father finally put an end to my siblings senseless bickering.

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The rest of the morning was mostly silent after that. I don’t think anyone else wanted to earn dad’s ire since he was already kind of fired up from earlier. So Del did what she was told and blew out the candles and we all ate in an awkward silence after.

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Normally I would try a bit harder to break through this air but I was starting to get unreasonably tired so my usual social drive just wasn’t there.

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I had already had a long day with all the running around the base dad had me do so as everyone was cleaning up I politely excused myself for a nap. As I plopped down into bed I thought to check my phone but knew Angela was probably just getting up and ready so I figured I’d look later after I was more coherent. I wish I hadn’t waited, because the next time I’d wake, everything would be different.

4. Like a Rat

 

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The weeks following Angela’s escape from Strangetown were bittersweet at it’s best. For the first time since I graduated I had a reason to wake up in the morning even if was just to check if there was a green flashing light on my phone.

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Every time I’d get a message it was like there was still some hope there. Like I didn’t completely miss the boat with her.

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Honestly I was running out of  excuses for her about that though so I didn’t know how much longer she was going to waste her time talking to me. Unfortunately I wasn’t really making much progress on the career front. Mauradia was one of the older SEED planets and as a result was highly overpopulated so jobs for even skilled workers can be hard to come by sometimes. Especially here on the southern continent of Evrien there was virtually no farm industry thanks to the arid climate.

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“If I could just get my foot in the door somewhere maybe I could make something of myself. “ I lamented again at my stupidity for not taking my secondary education more seriously.

“Bastian? Are you up already?”  My dad’s usual morning wake up call resounded through the silent house.

“Yeah I’ll be out in a minute.”  I replied pulling myself out of bed. “Man I’m never going to get out of this damn town.”

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“I must say Bastian your recent efforts to be more productive are quite impressive. Normally I am practically having to assault your sheets to get you out of bed at this hour.”

“I guess I’m just getting used to it.”

“That is unlikely, you’ve always seemed partially nocturnal even when you were an infant.  It was nearly impossible to get you to sleep at any sensible hour.  So tell me, has there been a change in your motivations? Are you formulating some long term goals? I truly find this sudden drive curious and promising.”

“Oh yeah cause ‘just getting older and needing to get my shit together’ isn’t a good enough reason dad? How about we just get on with your list for today?”

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“Well if you insist, I suppose we can carry on, no need to take offense. Whatever the reason I am pleased with your progress. Anyway, on to the task at hand, you’re coming in with me today.”

“Wait what? Like to work? On the base? Is that allowed?”

“I requested a special exception for you in this case but yes that typically is not permitted, particularly where we’ll be going.”

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“Okay way to be vague, but why would they allow that?”

“The reasons are irrelevant. Just mind yourself and follow my direction and everything will be just fine.”

“Well okay but I don’t really understand what help I’d be for your drills and shit. That is what you do right?”

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“No I am not a Drill Sargent, my particular skills and personality are not ideal for those sorts of positions. ”

“Oh okay I just thought cause you’ve never been deployed off-world maybe you were in training or something.”

“There are many administrative and non-combat roles within SEED’s military infrastructure. I must say I’m a bit put off that you don’t know this.  I’ve been enlisted since before you were born. Are you really this clueless about what I’ve been doing all these years?”

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“Honestly dad, outside of what happens in this house I don’t know really anything about you.  Hell before I met Uncle Bren I wasn’t sure you even had any family aside from us. I mean you never talk about them if you do.”

“I apologize I suppose I am not prone to sentimentality. Admittedly it’s been some time since I’ve even thought of them.”

“So you don’t care about them at all? Where is everyone? Do you have any other siblings?”

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“I have six intolerable sisters. Trust me I am sparing you much in not exposing you to them.” My father sighed and looked at his phone,  “I am sorry to cut this short, you seem genuinely curious about this but we have places to be.”

“Yes sir.”

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As we made our way out to the base I couldn’t help think about how much my dad probably was holding back. Six sisters I had never heard of? And what about his parents? My mom mentioned that she met them once but said she thought it was odd that they never came to visit after that. My grandmother was supposedly very doting on dad while they were there and she was surprised she wouldn’t have wanted to be involved with her grandchildren.

“So are they around still?” I caught myself thinking out loud.

“Who?”

“Your parents.”

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“That wouldn’t be logical considering my age don’t you think?”

“Well it’s just I don’t know.”

“Fair enough, yes they passed a long time ago.”

“Was it before or after I was born?”

“After I suppose.”

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“So you don’t know?”

“I most certainly do know but time tends to blend together as you get older so exact details are starting to escape me.  All you need to know is that my mother was an excessively compassionate person that would have held you in the greatest regard even if you didn’t deserve it. As for my father well that’s not as simplistic. I am afraid we didn’t share much in common and I harbor a great deal of resentment towards him.”

“What for?”

“I’d rather not say, it’s not wise to speak ill of the dead.”

“Really dad? I didn’t think you were superstitious like this. Mom’s going to get a good laugh out of this conversation if I tell her considering how much shit you give her for believing in her gods. ”

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“Your mother is a sensible woman, I do not understand her observance of that ancient Nactlafae cult. This is different though, I have good reason for my beliefs, it’s just difficult for me to explain.”

“Kind of sounds like a question of faith. That sort of thing is always hard to share with others.”

“More like reality changing. I don’t believe you’re prepared to hear such things. Too young, too unstable. Perhaps when you’re older and have more experience with this universe you’d be more open to it but for now you know what you need to know.”

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That pretty much ended the conversation, I had more questions of course but I sensed he was uncomfortable talking about it and would probably just get annoyed with me if I pressed the issue. It was disappointing because I actually felt like for once maybe I’d get a bit closer to understanding the man.

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So I just shut my mouth and followed him through the winding halls and corridors at the base.  The place seemed like a fucking maze but knowing the government they probably liked it that way. I wouldn’t know at all how to get out of here if I had to on my own.

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After what felt like an eternity we made our way into a large nondescript whitewashed room with the same sort of equipment I was used to seeing at the hospital my mom worked at.

“So is this where you work?”

“For the most part yes.”

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“Is this a lab? This seems a little-”

“Out of place?”

“Yeah. I thought this was an ops base.”

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“That would be incorrect but I’m unauthorized to explain further.”

“Of course, damn military would be full of fucking secrets.”

“Watch your tone, there’s a certain degree of respect that is expected here.”

“Yes sir. I am sorry.”

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“It’s fine , you are a product of your mother,  as such rebellious inklings are inherent to you. Shall we proceed?”

“Yeah sure, what do I need to do?”

“Well first I need you to consume this.”

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“What the fuck is that? No way that’s safe to eat.”

“It’s an experiment I’m working on. Don’t worry I already have done initial tests using your dna and everything went as expected.”

“How the fuck did you even get my dna? What did pull some of my hair out while I wasn’t looking?”

“Nothing so evasive, I just took a tissue from your waste receptacle while you were sleeping.”

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“WAIT WHAT? Dad!”

“You should really consider a sock or something that can be washed and re-used.  Your paper consumption is beyond excessive. ”

“You know I’ll swallow your damn horse pill,  just stop talking. about this”

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“Hey! Actually I feel pretty awesome, what the hell is that? Would another do the same thing or make it better?”

“Calm down, we must first see how your metabolism handles this dosage.  I must run some tests.”

“Okay sure, tell me what I need to do!”

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The rest of the morning was consumed by various exams and physical challenges to test how my body was reacting to things. Not really sure what it was but man it made me cheerful and damn complaint too which is kind of terrifying when you think about it considering who my father works for.

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“So tell me how exactly you are feeling right now.”

“Fucking starving. Can we have cake yet? I know there’s cake at home. We really shouldn’t be late for Del’s breakfast cake. That would be  shame. You like cake right dad?”

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“No son, I do not have the taste for it. Pie is a more acceptable dessert.”

“Pie is lame old man, who wants fruit in their birthday? No one I tell you! Hey did grandma like cake, you said she was really nice right? Most people who are nice like sweet things.”

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“That is a ridiculous statement and there’s no viable evidence to support that inference but I assume she didn’t as I never had any until I moved away from home.”

“What that’s ridiculous, what kind of fucked up childhood did you have that you didn’t have cake?! No wonder you never talk about them!”

“I lived in a secluded colony with limited resources, we didn’t grow sugar cane so we had few confections. Most of our sweet goods were fruits and sometimes sweetened with honey or this special nectar from the world my family originally immigrated from. Actually I wonder how difficult it would be to obtain some of that, I’m not even sure I could recall the name of it.”

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“This is cool daddy.”

“Excuse me?”

“Just hangin out like this. We should do this more often.”

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“I am not so sure, you seem to be having a bit of a reaction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this before.”

“Like what before? I feel amazing. You know what would make it better? Ice cream! We should go get ice cream and ride the carousel at the mall. We could go get everyone else, Del would love to have a birthday at the mall! She likes shopping you know. All she talks about is her pretty dresses and girly make up and shoes. Kind of redundant and annoying but it’s important to her ya know. Well dad can we?”

“It is not the time for that now, we have work we are doing here, besides it’s still very early in the morning.  Can you get up for me now? I think we’re going to have to have you run this out of your system.”

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“Are you okay dad? You seem discombobulated.”

“I’m fine, just do what I say please.”

“hehehe that’s such a funny word.”

“I must request that you please attempt to regain some of your composure. I’m trying to maintain an air of professionalism and you are making it quite difficult.”

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“Okay I’m sorry, daddy.”

“It’s alright I know you don’t have much control in the matter. Let’s go up and get some fresh air. You’ll need that change of clothes you brought so you can move around in better comfort. It’s warm today.”

“Perfect for ice cream.”

“Yes perfect for ice cream, now go get dressed and we’ll return to the surface.”

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“But I don’t wanna run.” The whine trickled out of my mouth before I could stop it. “What the hell was in that pill? I’m talking like a fucking ten year old now.” 

“I am not interested what want to do, right now you must get your fluids moving so that the chemicals will expel more efficiently from your system.”

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“But it’s lame, can’t I do something more fun to increase my adrenaline?”

“No you may not. Now do as I say this instant or you will not be having breakfast cake when we return home.”

“Dammit no fair! Running is hard!”

“Bastian Lane.”

“Yes sir.”

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It seemed like he had me running around all morning but eventually I did start to feel more like myself. It was kind of a downer though, that euphoric bump would be hard to forget. Especially as the reality of my current existence and all my insecurities trickled back in.

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How long would Angela wait for me? It’s not like I’m anything worth waiting for. Even if I manage to get a job it’s not going to be anything like the life she’s used to. Her father is a well known bot engineer in Las Palmas, he pretty much pays for everything for her. How could I ever live up to that? How could I hope to give her any kind of good life?

“So are you feeling more regulated now? Your demeanor seems more on par with what I’m familiar with.”

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“Yeah unfortunately I’m back to just being me, which is far lamer than anything we did today.”

“I disagree, I am quite relieved you are back to being yourself. For a moment there I was worried I had shattered your essence and that would have been a grievous mistake. I am quite content with who you are even if you’re not currently living up to your full potential. I think you will find it eventually though.”

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I was kind of taken aback. I knew my dad loved me in his own way but he really was the last person I would have expected to say that to me. It always seemed like he was so disappointed with who I had become and where it seemed I was going. Now I was starting to wonder if maybe he was more patient than I gave him credit for. That he actually didn’t mind having me around still.

“Come son, we should return to the homestead and rescue Morgan from your intolerable siblings.”

 

 

 

 

 

3. Holding On

*NSFW WARNING: THIS UPDATE CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT*


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I felt really bad when I woke up the morning after Angela’s party. I mean I was late and all I did was whine about how everyone else had somewhere to go but me. At least today I didn’t have my dad breathing down my neck since I was on baby duty.

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I liked hanging out with Hawk though, being an uncle was pretty great.  I didn’t know many guys that age that even liked kids but I’ve always been pretty good with them. I mean I do have a lot of siblings and I did help my parents quite a bit with them as I was growing up. So I guess this sort of thing just came naturally to me.

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“So what do you think we should do today little man? Probably just gonna chill out if that’s okay, I’m feeling pretty down.”

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“Sorry it’s been so rainy lately, monsoons you know. Can’t really take you on a walk when it’s like this. Guess you’re pretty into that block set though huh? I suppose that should keep you busy until you get mad at it again.”

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He was pretty good with it most of the time but he’d easily get frustrated when things didn’t immediately happen the way he thought it should.”

“Why you feeling down?” A voice echoed from the hallway, “You say something stupid last night to Angela? She seemed seemed kind of pissy after you left.”

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“Hey I didn’t know you were here, didn’t you have to work today?”

“Yeah but I quit.” Tidus sighed as he joined us in the living-room.

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“What? Why the fuck man? My dad and Skye are going to be pissed.”

“Because evidently I’ve been drafted, can’t really work another job if I have to go on random missions on the fly.”

“Oh shit man that sucks. You really don’t have a choice in the matter? Have you told Skye?”

“No on both fucking counts. I don’t know how she’s going to take it either. We’ve talked about it but it seemed like it’d be further away.”

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“So that why you’re looking all weird today? I thought you were a blonde man.”

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“Actually this is my default form, and they won’t let me fucking change it until I report in. Controlling assholes. I prefer not to have people asking what kind of off-worlder I am everywhere I go.  Katarat are not well liked in this sector man. What the fuck is the point to being a damn shapeshifter if they can just shut that shit off? Stupid fucking chip.”

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“Damn man I’m sorry.  I’ve been moping since I woke up just for acting like an ass and being all sorry for myself last night and you’ve got real shit going on. How long until you have to go?”

“I don’t know, I think I may have some time. The only thing that I think is saving me right now from being deployed is Hawk. They really want his dna registered before I leave but since your dad wouldn’t let me sign the birth certificate he or your step-mom have to give me permission to take him off world. ”

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“Well it’s good to see that my dad being an asshole for once did some good for someone.”

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“Yeah I guess I can thank him when he gets home, he’ll probably be fucking thrilled at this news. Anyway I got shit to think about and I want to spend some time with my son while I have the chance. If you want you can get out of here before your dad’s aware you’re idle and gives you shit to do.”

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“Well I guess I could go see if Angela and them are done with getting things into the truck. I really don’t want to leave things all awkward like this.”

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I felt terrible for Tidus and worse for my sister because she’s just kind of wrapped up in all this just for loving him. Yeah they made a mistake but it felt like they were always getting a raw deal out of everything. We met Tidus at summer camp and his mom came down from Concordia for a while so he could have a “normal” life for a bit before he was forced into the Concordia Peace Keepers Union.  He and Skye got a bit too close soon after and that’s how Hawk came about. My dad was furious but Morgan kept him in line to some degree.

Since he said it was alright I went ahead and got dressed and took off for Angela’s. It was still early in the day maybe I could still be of some help.

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“Wow you guys really cleared the place out already.” It was like the night before hadn’t even happened the apartment was so bare.

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“Oh Yeah Zach came to help, you should have seen it man! He just threw my headboard over his back like it was nothing. Sytars man, damn impressive. Anyway c’mere! I’m so glad I got to see you again, I was really annoyed with you last night you know.”

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“Yeah I know I am really sorry, I am such an id -”

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“No Bastian don’t fucking start again. I told you I don’t like it when you talk like that.”

I don’t know what compelled me to do what I did in response to that. I guess I felt awkward and did the first thing that came to me. I mean all I had in my head were these awful thoughts of her leaving and how I was just going to fuck up our last moment again.  My dad says that the one thing that really drove him crazy about my mom was she could never separate her emotions from the physical and her reaction to any problem was to try to sleep with him to avoid any further conflict. I guess I’m more like her than I’d like to admit.

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Once I kissed her everything felt so much better. She really did have the most perfect lips.

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Then everything just progressed so quickly and naturally I didn’t want to let her go.

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And I don’t think she was willing to reject me either.

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It wasn’t like there wasn’t something there, I had always been attracted to her and over the past few weeks we had spent so much time together. It was hard not to notice the way she looked at me.  If only she had broke up with Greg sooner maybe I could have had her for myself, not just for that moment but for real.

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I just tried not to think about it.

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And enjoyed the moments we had left.

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“I’m sorry I didn’t say this sooner but really don’t want you to leave.”

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There was nothing I could say to make her stay though and I would have regretted if she had. I knew it was too late. Plans were set in motion long before and she’d be gone by the end of the day.  My only hope was that at least we could be still friends even it would be at a distance.

2. Tune Out

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“Damn list, damn rain. Fucking desert, it’s supposed to be dry.” I grumbled to myself as the downpour negated my shower.  “So much for taking the time to look decent.”

It was always hard to get leave of the house on Friday nights with six people all wanting to go out and a single bathroom to share. At least I finally made it out of there, only an hour late, “Angela is so going to kill me.” 

I hate being late, you pretty much are the instant center of attention and not in a good way. To make things all the better I walked in to Lauren staring right at me.

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We travel in the same circles, it can be hard to avoid her so I just do the best I can to keep my walls up.

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“About time you showed up dick. What we’re you going to let me leave town without saying goodbye?”  Ah Angela, even if I was five minutes late I’m sure she’d give me the third degree. To be fair I was very rarely on time for anything but seriously things just happen, it’s not always my fault. Luckily I usually am prepared to mitigate the damage a bit.

“C’mon Angela you know me better than that and hey I did get you something.”

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“Oh you didn’t have to do this! You don’t even have a job, how did you -”

“I sometimes have money from doing stuff for my dad, he’s actually pretty cool about that believe it or not. It’s not much, just one of those art kits. Thought it may be handy when you start school in the summer.”

“Thanks! I’m sure it will! I mean I go through this stuff pretty fast already and I still have two weeks till I start.” She smiled and set the box to the side, “I’m really glad you made it you know.  Do you wanna come hang out on the porch for a bit? It’s kind of stuffy in here with all the people coming in and out.”

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“You know for a cheapass apartment this doesn’t have the worst view. ”

“Yeah it’s not too shabby is it? I hope I find something nice in Las Palmas. My dad has a pretty great house but I won’t want to live with him long.”

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“You excited about going back? You’ve talked about it a lot since grad.”

“Yeah I think so, there’s a lot of things I’m going to miss about here but it’s not the same as being home. So when are you taking off? You’re not planning on staying long are you? I think you’d fair better in your situation in a bigger city.”

“You’re probably right but I don’t even know how I’d get there. I mean I said I had a little money from dad but it’s never enough to get out of here. I’m probably just fucked.”

“You’ll figure it out, I mean we only graduated last season and I decided to take off just a couple weeks ago. When you’re ready I’m sure you’ll make a break for it. And hey if you’re in LP you could always crash on my sofa if you need to for a while.”

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“Thanks I guess, I’ll let you know. I mean Las Palmas is the closest major metro I could end up there. Oh hey is Greg going with you? I never really talk to him when we hang out but he seems alright.”

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“Oh no.. I broke up with him actually.”

“Really? Haven’t you guys dated since like grade-school or something?”

“He didn’t want to move and I didn’t want to stay. It happens.”

“Break ups are the worst.”

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“Yeah… Speaking of are you over the chlamydia fairy yet?”

“I think so, at least I know I don’t like her or being around her so I probably am good.”

“At least you didn’t end up hooked like your dumb uncle.”

“Yeah, I can say I’m pretty fucking glad for that.”

“I mean could you imagine if you had gotten her pregnant?”

“Honestly I don’t even want to think about that. For once I actually got lucky I guess.”

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“Well now I’m bummed, wanna go in? I love desert rain but it does get muggy after a while.”

I follow Angie back inside and into her room. It was pretty common for us to convene in there after talking about uncomfortable things.

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“I’m going to miss this.” 

“Yeah me too. My dad would totally kill me if I tried to do this in the house.”

“Dammit Bastian that’s not what I meant.”

“I know, it just sucks you are leaving, trying not to ruin the mood again. I mean I understand, I don’t want to be here either.”

“Well I don’t think I hate it as much as maybe you do and when I really think about it sometimes I doubt myself. I mean high school sucked just like it does for everyone but I’ve actually really enjoyed hanging out with you the last few weeks. Sucks it went so fast I’m not really ready for it to be over. That’s life I guess.”

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“Yeah I wish it wasn’t like that, wouldn’t it be nice if time would just hold still tonight at least? I think we’ve made some good memories though. I’ll miss the crew when you all take off for better things.”

“I don’t know that I’ll really miss anyone from here but you and my mom honestly. Zach and Ti are okay I guess but Braden can be kind of a douche sometimes.”

“Well I’m glad you don’t think I’m a douche too, Braden and I can be kind of similar sometimes.”

“Don’t say that you’re nothing like him.”

“I don’t know I’m pretty damn selfish a lot of the time, and lazy. Gods I really need to figure my shit out.”

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“Yeah you do but I think it would help if you stopped depreciating yourself. How are you going to think positively about your future if all you do is put yourself down? No one else sees you the way you do. No one I fucking promise you.”

“Okay, okay I get it.”

“I’m serious Bastian, I really like you and it bothers me when you get in these moods.”

“I’m sorry, at least you won’t have to deal with it anymore.”

“You don’t need to apologize, we’re friends Bastian and at the end of the day that means putting up with each other’s quirks no matter how off base and fucking annoying they are.”

“Great job Bastian,” I lament internally as the room settled into an uneasy quiet.  “Way to ruin the night.” 

1. Make Yourself

“Bastian? Are you conscious yet or have you drown in your linens? If the latter rest assured that the funds currently maintaining your excessively carnivorous diet will be put to good use elsewhere.”

It’s been weeks since I dropped out of school and I swear my dad tries to get me up with the sun daily just to relish in my annoyed reaction.

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“I have always harbored a secret desire to own a frivolously priced vehicle.” He continued as he entered the room and leaned against the wall. “I suppose I could invest in a sport utility model. You know like the clearly overcompensating for something monstrosity your uncle is partial to driving.”

“What time is it?” I growl and attempt to nuzzle my head back into the warm embrace of my sheets. “I need to sleep in today dad.”

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“Young wastes of men do not have the luxury.”

“C’mon it’s Angie’s going away party tonight and if you give me a list full of shit again I’m gonna be exhausted before it even starts.”

“If that is the case may I also remind you that you have an obligation to your sister and that worthless alien to supervise their offspring tomorrow.”

“I haven’t forgotten.” I quickly replied, I actually enjoyed days I got to watch my nephew Hawk since usually I got a break from my father’s productivity lists. , “And do you really have to call Ti that? You don’t have to be such an asshole to him ya know.”

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“He inseminated my adolescent daughter. Even by the strictest of social standards I believe it is my paternal right to make him miserable.”

“He just works really hard, he put in sixty hours at the bakery last week and pretty much pays for everything Skye wants or needs. I mean fuck I’m more worthless than he is.”

“Well that is something we can definitely agree on.” he chuckled at my expense almost too heartily, “Well it seems you’re quite awake now correct?”

“Yes unfortunately.”

“Well then, make yourself ready, make yourself useful.”

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“Yes sir.” I mumbled as respectfully as I could through my teeth and pulled myself out of bed. I guess it was nice my dad decided to make a project out of me, it showed some degree of care I suppose? Even if most of what he made me do every day was bitch work.

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Still it wasn’t all bad, most of it was just relaying shit to my mom and uncle since my dad can’t stand to talk to either for any amount of time.  This was happening a lot especially since my little sister Delora’s grad was coming up and as temperamental as she is dad just didn’t want anything weird to happen. We all love uncle Mason but he seriously always has tons of lady drama and since he had been on and off with Lauren’s mom dad sent me out to make an uncomfortable request.

Mason worked at a bar in town. Kind of sad really for a man of his age, mom always bitches about how I’m going to be just like him if I don’t get my life together.  I’m not too worried though, I’m still young and I’ll figure it out.  When I arrived Mason was busy so I got a drink and hung out until things died down. Unfortunately that left me open for Ada.

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“Before you say anything I have no idea where he is okay?”  My friend Braden was kind of always on the outs with his mother. I don’t know how she always seems to find me and not him when she’s angry.

“Well aren’t you worthless today?”

“Actually I already ran a lot of –”

“To me idiot, you’re worthless to me. How about you skankdaddy? You been serving my boy drinks today? You better not have let him drive my damn car if so.”

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“You know Ada I think you’d have an easier time finding him if you weren’t such a cunt to everyone about it.” My uncle smirked as he cleaned up from his last order.

“Better a cunt than a worthless dirtbag.”

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“Fuck off Ada, you don’t know shit and no I haven’t seen your dumbass kid today.”

“So… uhh Uncle Mason I kind of got to ask you a favor for dad.” I cut in realizing how late it was getting.

“Oh great what the fuck does he want?”

“Well ya know how Lauren and Del don’t really mix? He just well thinks it would be wise if you just come stag to her birthday stuff. I hope that’s cool.”

“Leslie will give me hell for that.”

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“Well then get hell for it cause she and Lauren aren’t fucking welcome.” I snap feeling a ping of irritation at the thought of Lauren ruining something else in my life, “They won’t fuck up my sister’s birthday you got it?”

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“Damn kid, when did you turn into your dad? I thought you were cooler than that. Fine, I’ll come alone.  You didn’t have to be a dick about it you know.”

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I felt kind of bad, usually I try to be reasonable but I didn’t want to see Lauren and I knew she’d try to tag along. She still calls me every day for some stupid reason, it’s definitely over and she just needs to let it go.  Having completed the last item on my list I was finally free but unfortunately running late.  I just hoped Angie and Seren wouldn’t be too mad.

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0. Foundation for Failure

When I look back at my life sometimes it just feels like a series of uncomfortable situations. Even the day I was born was marked with a slight note of impending misery. I think the months my dad was stationed up in the north were really the beginning of the end for their relationship.

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Personally I don’t actually recall a single happy moment between my parents though photographs from before my time seem to indicate there was something there once.

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10298651_257016514489600_8326961914026154625_oWell whatever it was it led to us, my sisters Nova, Delora, and myself coming about and I guess I’m glad for that. As volatile as my sisters tend to be, I wouldn’t know what life would be like without them, nor would I want to. It was difficult I think for dad for a while after he and mom split up since he had the three of us mostly on his own on top of his increasingly demanding military career. It wasn’t like it was all easy for him either.

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He did his best to balance things though and even if he didn’t always have time for me directly there was never any question in my mind that he cared about all of us tremendously.

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It wasn’t really all that long after Delora was born that Morgan officially came into my dad’s life. They had been sort of dating right after he and mom had split but when she got pregnant with the twins I think it settled them down a bit faster than they had planned.

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Skye and Terran are much more even tempered than either of my other siblings, though Terran can be a bit of a dick sometimes nowadays.

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Admittedly I had a pretty calm childhood aside from the constant struggle I had with school. I don’t know it wasn’t like I wasn’t smart enough for the material or anything. It was more like I didn’t care I guess?

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By the time I was ready to start secondary school I was just skidding through my school work by the skin of my back much to the annoyance of my father and Morgan.  This disinterest in education only became worse when I started to notice girls, especially Lauren.

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10452968_270716599786258_4177732734324822084_oLauren and I had been friends since we were kids because our fathers had served in the same unit for years. So really it was only natural it’d transition into something more after we got older. Problem was that Lauren wasn’t exactly willing to wait to get her life started once she decided we were going to be together forever.

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And like any hormone-driven youth I wasn’t going to say no.

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It should have been a sign I guess that she was so eager to shack up at our age.  Even my mother, who had mostly been on the sidelines throughout my adolescence, expressed her concerns over the unhealthy preoccupation we seemed to have with one another.

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As graduation grew near it became more and more apparent that maybe I was the only one that was really into the long term with us even though she was always insisting we’d be married one day. Kind of hard to believe Lauren when your fucking tongue is down some other dick’s throat.

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Anyway when that was over it kind of felt like my life was too. It was nearly time for me to move on to graduate studies and my grades were in the gutter so I just kind of gave up and for a while it didn’t really seem like I was going much of anywhere.