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PostPosted: November 25th, 2010, 9:50 am 
Maia
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(Eeee, I’m so looking forward to your post Will! :-D I just hope Dylan isn’t going to reveal anything to Lucius about Allegra – especially since she’s helping him to escape :lol: )

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PostPosted: November 25th, 2010, 6:22 pm 
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Dylan just listened to Lucius' cold sneers. He kept his gaze directed at the Governor, and supressed a shiver while the former emphasized the words what fate awaits you. A flash of panic washed over him; his vision became blurred and his throbbing headache caused his thoughts to be incoherent. Mild traumatic brain injury flashed through his mind, yet this wasn't the time to be self-diagnosing. He had to keep his wits together in order to play this game.

He turned his head towards Allegra, focussing in order to comprehend what she was saying. But Dylan's had heart turned cold; he'd always been a man that had tried not to get too attached to others. Especially as a surgeon, he didn't allow himself to get too involved with patients, of whom he lost many. The pain of not being able to save all those lifes was unbearable, so had learnt to shut it out. But Allegra.. he had actually trusted her, thought her to be a good person; a true friend. She now seemed laughing and mocking him. Had he been framed by the Governor's sister? Surely there would be overwhelming evidence for high treason..

Vaguely he heard the patting sound of Allegra's stiletto heels diminish and he realised that he was alone in his cell with Lucius. With his threatening question still echoeing in his head, Dylan scrambled to his feet, taking two quivering steps towards the Governor.

"Yes," he said with a steady voice. "I have quite a few things to say. I have a few things to say about your ways of running this place. Obviously your policies are only directed at how to benefit you and your loyalists the most. But what about the rest of those people? How will you answer for what you're doing to them?"

Dylan's face had become pale and swaggered slightly. Standing nose to nose with Lucius, the silence became almost deafening. Dylan just stood there, waiting for him to reply, when Allegra entered the cell again and the Governor's attention was averted. Hardly hearing what Allegra said to her brother, Dylan slumped back on the mattress, not sure whether he was going to regret what he'd just said.



[ Sorry for this awefully bad post.. But I've been so tired for the past days that it has been hard to write a good post. :(
Oh and I'm purposely letting Dylan believe that Allegra deceived him.. Causes more angst.. yay! :P My post for Lilly will be up after Darkeh posted. :) ]

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PostPosted: November 26th, 2010, 5:12 pm 
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[It wasn't awful! :hug: Tiredness sucks. You'll be back on your feet in a little while, don't worry about it. :D]

Smiling in that kind of faintly surprised way she was adept at summoning to cover dark moods and, more recently, the ever-present fear that was blossoming in her heart, Adrianna embraced Garnet warmly, glad that, for once in what seemed like years, she was being held by someone who sincerely cared - not just someone who tolerated her presence because she was useful. All the same, it had hurt a little to find that, instead of a cold and empty house, she'd found a cheery atmosphere and a stranger sitting with her best friend and elder brother. She felt intensely unappreciated, but that was mostly self-pity talking, and she knew it. The mere thought of her actions and what she was doing now was enough to make her feel nauseous; she didn't need anything else to add to her worries. With great effort, she heaved aside her doubts, her fears and her grudges and smiled.

“Hello!” As introductions were made, Adrianna found a discrete moment to analyse their guest: she was young, pretty and quite heavily pregnant. Immediately she wondered how on earth Cameron and Garnet had managed to run into someone such as her, for in her condition she shouldn't have been out at as late an hour as this. Shocking, also, was that the girl was smiling, enjoying the warmth and gentle conversation, if her assumptions were accurate. Adrianna, somewhat shy and reserved, offered a “very nice to meet you,” in a soft voice, sweeping her hair out of her face, better to reveal the genuine smile that lay upon her face.

Perfectly aware that she'd ignored her brother's greeting comment, Adrianna looked sideways at Garnet, switched her gaze to her brother than moved abruptly back in an unintentionally over-theatrical double take. As the seconds past, Garnet looked increasingly pale, until all the colour has left her face and her skin looked paper thin and startlingly white. Adrianna caught her as she fell, but despite bracing her legs for the extra weight, her small frame wasn't enough to be able to bear both of them; them tumbled to the floor, Adrianna pinned down by her unconscious friend, both concerned and rendered helpless.

The instant he'd seen her falling, Cameron had been on his feet and halfway across the room; as gravity claimed her, he felt his heart descend to somewhere near his feet, where it hovered, tentatively, scarcely daring to hope.
As he reached the two young women, a tangled mess of limbs on the floor, he exchanged worried looks with Adrianna before lifted Garnet up, bodily, from the floor without much difficulty at all, taking care to make sure her head was supported by his shoulder.

Turning to Lilly with an apologetic expression, he said “I'll take her upstairs - she needs to rest. I'm not sure when the last time she had a day off was, but I'm certain it was an awfully long time ago.”

With no further explanation - for one wasn't needed - he swept away, holding his childhood friend gently in his arms, heading upstairs towards the bedrooms, of which there were three: a rarity in such a low-income family's house. Cameron disliked Adrianna's job, but even he admitted that being able to keep the house he'd lived in with his parents, instead of having to downgrade to a smaller property, was most definitely a benefit.

His parent's room was still exactly the same as they'd left it, however many years ago; he'd never had a chance to redecorate it - not that he would - and Adrianna was far too busy to consider moving any pieces of furniture. Judging by the state of the room, she cleaned here regularly, and kept a vase - their mother's - regularly topped up with water to feed the exquisitely coloured Bleeding Heart clipping that was situated there. So pretty.

Cameron laid Garnet down on the fresh, soft, unused sheets and watched her for a moment. Despite the abruptness of her loss of consciousness, she seemed to be resting as peacefully as could be helped now, and he could do nothing until she woke up.

Walking around the bed, perching on the end and resting his face in his hands, Cameron hoped dearly that everything would work itself out in the future - even if that future wasn't quite how he'd planned it. It didn't hurt if you saw the world with a little realism, and these days, there was more than enough of that going around.

<center>- - -</center>

Worried and concerned, both for different reasons, Adrianna glanced awkwardly at Lilly then back upstairs, where the landing was unlit and she was unable to see Cameron's dark shape moving about. New people, even the nicest of new people, made her nervous, as she wasn't sure how to act best around them. Goodness knows, she wasn't the most social of creatures.

“I'm sorry, please excuse me... I really have to...” she motioned upwards, hoping more than anything that she didn't seem rude or uncaring. Pausing only to smile at Lilly again, with a more preoccupied expression this time, Adrianna climbed the stairs, two at a time.

Once upstairs, she felt a pressure had been lifted from her shoulders: she no longer felt it necessary to conform to the strictures of the rules of social interactions. It made her feel better to be out of the sight of prying eyes.

Heading, instead of for her parent's room, where she heard Cameron's unmistakable, heavy footsteps, she headed for the tiny room to her right; it might have served as an office if it hadn't been so small, but as it was, Adrianna used it as a storage room for everything from small objects that didn't seem to belong anywhere else in the house, to the filing cabinet that contained all her immaculate handwritten reports, case files and pieces of paperwork that she'd collected over the past months and years.

It was in this filing cabinet that she searched, after locating and making use of the key, looking for the documents that would enable her to put the final stages of her plan into action and, after much toil and panic, free the man she'd bound herself to.

Unaware of the eyes that watched her, Adrianna continued to shuffle her papers, rifle through files, occasionally drawing one out, flicking through its pages, then taking care to put it back in its rightful place or set it aside for future use. After a minute of working silently, she closed the well-oiled draw until it gave a soft click when it shut. The key was drawn out and replaced in her pocket, and she turned, files in hand, and nearly walked into Cameron.

There was something in her brother's expression that she suddenly felt quite afraid of; it took her a minute to realise exactly what it was. He was angry, but hadn't yet said anything - he was waiting for her to figure it out for herself. She didn't say anything. Neither did he, until:

“Adrianna, what's this?” he lifted the blank envelope she'd walked into the house with.

“Nothing,” she answered immediately, “Work stuff.” she corrected.

He scrutinised her intently. “Your friend just collapsed and you're still working?”

“Cameron...” she began, but was interrupted.

“No, listen,” he started, stepping closer. The most intimidating thing about his voice was that it got quieter instead of louder as he got more annoyed. Hating every second of being made to feel like a misbehaving child, Adrianna immediately felt resentment rise and her anger rise higher. Of course, he'd automatically place himself by Garnet, the girl he'd loved since childhood, instead of the sister he never saw. Swallowing her hurt, Adrianna felt her cool mask return to her features as she retreated within herself, the only place that she knew for certain was safe.

“You're working from six in the morning to whatever time the Governor thinks is appropriate. You never stop working when you get home because it's all far too important. You never see anyone other than the power-hungry maniacs and criminals the Governor consorts with--”

“Cameron...” a warning tone quavered in her voice as she said his name, now.

“--you're just got back and you're still working. Garnet's still not awake. What's with you?”

“I'm sure it's simply a matter of me walking home and forgetting my troubles,” she hissed back, bitterly. “My problems won't go away if I ignore them for the night, Cameron, they'll get worse. Do you realise what'd happen if I let my duties pass me by? Slipped up, forgot to carry out some task or other? No, you don't - you've been away too long, you've forgotten what it's like here!”

“Stop this, be honest. Where should you be right now?” he asked her, placing great significance in the words, as Adrianna pushed past him and exited the room. Following, he grabbed ahold of her arm so she span to face him.

“Where should you be, Cameron? Lecturing your all-grown-up little sister on how she should run her life or sitting by the bedside of the girl you refuse to profess your love for?”

She had him there, she knew, but she regretted it the moment she'd said it. Cameron had frozen, staring at her blankly, his fingers biting into the skin of her arm. Feeling tears forming in her eyes, Adrianna refused to meet her brother's gaze, fixing her vision firmly on the door opposite, just beyond which she could see the unconscious form of Garnet, sleeping soundly. Her heart felt heavy as she beheld her friend in such a situation.

“Life isn't simple, Cameron,” she murmured mournfully, “I wish it was. I can't live any other way than this.”

Recovering slightly, Cameron observed the drastic change in his sister's demeanour with shock and sympathy. Seemingly afraid, exhausted and scared, Adrianna was having to substitute her priorities for her work. He wished it wasn't so, but at the moment he couldn't help her, except to offer reassurance he already knew she wouldn't take.

“We could stop,” he told her. “Go into hiding. Let them deal with their problems on their own.”

“No.” she countered instantaneously, still not looking at him. “They'd find us. They'd always find us. Cameron, we wouldn't have a hope.”

As Cameron's grip loosened on her arm, Adrianna walked away, picked her way down the stairs carefully, and turned into the living room and the intense warmth that lurked there. Looking at Lilly, she smiled, hoping that the young woman had heard nothing but hushed voices speaking in conspiratorial whispers.

“You're welcome to go upstairs, if you'd like. Garnet's not awake, but she should be able to rest comfortably now. I think it was just exhaustion.”

Picking up her jacket, she shrugged into it and laid a small, pale hand on the doorknob.

“I'm sorry I can't stay longer. I have a feeling that if urgent business isn't sorted tonight, chaos'll reign by morning. It was lovely to meet you, ” she offered, by way of a parting farewell. “hopefully next time I'll be around longer.”

<center>- - -</center>

As the door closed, there was a soft whisper of a shiver-inducing breeze that swept through the room. From upstairs, the sounds of Adrianna leaving had a strange finality to them; he rarely fought with his sister, and when they did they were usually able to settle their differences, but there was something oddly crushed about Adrianna's state of mind, she seemed either unwilling or unable to fight. At that moment, Cameron began to wonder whether his sister's state of mind was because of the dark times they'd entered, or the fact she worked within such close proximity to such undiluted evil.

Quiet had always been the word to describe Adrianna, but she'd always been honest with him. Only recently had she given him any clue as to how much her work had changed her, and even then he never seemed to be able to connect with her deepest thoughts, which she kept safely hidden away, lest the reveal the secrets of her soul. It hadn't occurred to him before, but Cameron then realised that Adrianna could harbour secrets that none of them, not even he, had ever dreamed of, ones that were consuming her. The desire to save his sister from a most dire fate only increased his wish to escape from the strict world of rules, regulations and work, and so he returned to the bedroom where Garnet slept, to sit and think and wait for her to return to consciousness and make his world shine brightly once more.

<center>- - -</center>

Ever vigilant, the Governor quickly processed that Allegra would try and, in as many ways as possible, try to infuriate and embarrass him. It was low, trying to do such a thing in front of one of his prisoners, but he suspected that she was desperate, and needed to feel good about herself; he didn't interfere. Later they'd make for their swords and settle their differences, but now was certainly not the time.

Had you pursued that law degree, I should suspect you would've learnt a thing or two about government. As you didn't, such procedures escape you. It might be wise for you to remain silent in future, to avoid sounding like a fool.”

Even though Allegra had a valid point, in all she said, it didn't stop the cutting put-down from being any less harsh; in fact, the idea that he'd cut her down, in front of a stranger, in such a matter-of-fact way was daunting. He had no qualms about correcting anyone, for he had nothing to fear - he held seventy per cent of the power and wealth of this city. Complete domination over it was something he aspired to, but didn't really want or need, because once he got there he'd have no challenge to sustain him. What was life without his fun?

Allegra's causal, unceremonious exit went unnoticed by Lucius, who cared not whether his sister was inside the room, outside of it, or at the other side of the city, she had no bearing on his plans whatsoever. He understood that she would intentionally try and mess with that he was trying to achieve, but usually he'd be able to turn this upon itself, sometimes gaining more in the process than he lost. He hadn't risen to power because he was rich, after all.

The doctor seemed to be all too ready to express his opinion; he was still fighting it, if not on a conscious level - the man didn't want to be here, and, to be perfectly honest, Lucius could see why. That didn't mean he was going to set him free.

Now that Allegra had left, it gave him free reign to say what he pleased without it being echoed back at him at a most inappropriate moment. This was the moment he lived for, the one where he could see the hope crushed in his enemy's eyes, see all wish for justice and rebellion die, and see the misery of a broken spirit settle upon then like dust upon an untouched room. It gave him great satisfaction to know that this was the way he could affect people, should he want to, and it made him feel invincible, even if that wasn't true.

“Though I have no need to explain myself to you, I shall say this,” the Governor answered in a perfectly level voice to match the doctor's. “Those medical supplies you've been buying for months have been stolen from the transports that were taking them to the very outskirts of the city, where there are few people and too few resources. Now, if you think I am cruel for my ways, what does that make you?”

Something cruel and entirely unlike a smile creased the Governor's face into an expression of controlled, malicious glee.

“You've saved only as many lives as you've taken, doctor, remember that.”

Silence took over after his last words, which seemed to hang in the air for an abnormally long time.

They were lies.
Each word he'd given life to was a lie; he'd meant to destroy the doctor's spirit, crush his strong will and break his heart. It was the only way to work with honourable men.

Right on cue, Allegra walked in again, babbling about some kind of matter that needed his attention. He would've ignored her had he not heard the alarms that sounded and cut off the end of her sentence - the Wardens were involved, which meant that there'd be hell to pay if things weren't resolved quickly. The Wardens were a useful tool, mainly the fist of his destruction, but they were rather heavy-handed and were certainly not suited to delicate work. This he left to those with a softer touch, who worked well with subtlety.

“Perfect,” he announced in a low, well-projected voice. “I have no more business to attend to here. Satisfy your curiosity, sister, then lock the door. I'm sure you can look after yourself.”

He made an abrupt exit, making the single candle flicker, so very close to going out entirely. The room brightened a second later, giving the impression of the room becoming less sinister as the formidable Governor left it.

For a moment he encountered no-one, then he rounded a corner and came across a manned post, where a Warden stood, looking increasingly nervous with each passing second, unsure whether to run for help or stay where he was. As Nylander passed, the man, eager to prove his worth, began with a string of formalities that he really could've done without. The incessant, inane chatter of the man was intensely annoying, but, as with all emotion Lucius felt, he quantified it and locked it away somewhere where even he couldn't see or feel it.

“So, sir, the situation is, well, we think there's been some sort of security breach upstairs. We're not sure what exactly happened, but -” the man licked his lips nervously then continued with fractured sentences “- no-one's seen anything yet, and... and we're doing a sweep of the building now, sir, and... nothing to report yet.”

The long rant had all been said very quickly, and Lucius could quite happily have done without it. He'd have a concise summary of the situation soon enough, from someone who actually knew what they were doing.

As he turned the corner into the lavishly decorated main corridor, he made a mental note to order the Wardens guild to keep their novices out from under his feet unless they wanted to encounter a few... inconveniences. If there was one thing he despised, it was incompetence.

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PostPosted: November 26th, 2010, 6:46 pm 
Maia
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(Introducing in this post a new charrie, Gardenia! I've not decided on her surname yet, but I'll get her bio up soon. =) Eeee, this is so exciting!)

Gardenia sat at her desk, neatly stacking a wedge of paper, a pleased smile on her face. She’d spent the entire evening rattling away at her typewriter, working on a report for Governor Nylander. She knew that he’d be pleased with it; it was scrupulously thorough, listing point by point in precise order. Sliding it carefully into a large envelope, she sealed it and sat back in her chair, letting out a small exhalation of breath. Gardenia never looked happier than when she had completed an important task.

She had worked here in the Tower as an assistant for six years, now. She was an assiduous worker, always the first one to turn up in the morning, and always the last to go home at night. In all her time here, she had never once failed any job she was given. This was because she was ruthlessly ambitious, and would never allow herself any failure, but also because of her passionate feelings for the man she worked for.

Gardenia had first seen him when she was twenty years old, and she had been attending an event with her parents, who were enormously rich, and naturally, to be respected by the likes of the governors. From the first moment she’d clapped eyes upon Lucius, she had been fascinated, and her heart was lost to him. He was so dark, so handsome, so powerful. She’d wanted to find a way to get close to him, and so she had demanded of her parents that they found her a job working in the Tower. Of course, they had catered for what they thought then was simply a whim, and had used their powerful connections to get her a job as an assistant.

At twenty-six years old, Gardenia was an ideal employee. She did whatever the Governor asked her to do, and reigned in a tyranny over the lesser workers. However, there was someone blocking her way to the promotion she coveted, and her name was Adrianna Hart. Gardenia despised her; she was jealous of the confidence Lucius had in her. If she had her way, then Adrianna would be removed. Gardenia’s obsession with her boss made her a dangerous opponent; she would go to any lengths to obtain what she wanted – she had no scruples whatsoever about resorting to violence.

Gardenia locked the envelope in one of her desk drawers, and rose up from her chair. She glanced around her office, surveying every corner. It was as tidy as the Governor’s; Gardenia shared his meticulous nature, and hated anything disorderly. Speaking of disorderliness, something quite ill-timed had occurred yesterday. Before leaving for work, her boyfriend had decided to inform her that he was breaking up with her; apparently, she cared more about her work than she did about him. Well, so what if that was true? This announcement had infuriated her, and she’d sworn then and there than he’d regret trying to humiliate her. Losing him had been a blow to her pride, not to mention the fact that his untimely proclamation had ruined her schedule; they’d been supposed to go out for dinner that evening. And so she had arranged for him to be arrested for conspiracy to commit insubordination. She still smiled at the thought of the look on his face when he answered the front door to a group of wardens, and had his wrists clapped in iron.

Suddenly, Gardenia was alerted by the ear-shattering sound of alarms going off. Her head snapped upwards, and her eyes flared with flame. She heard frantic footsteps going past her office door. Instantly, she scooped up her black handbag from her desk, sliding it onto her shoulder, and crossed the room, flicking off the light before wrenching the door open and setting off down the corridor.

As she went, her black high heels tapped on the floor. This was a sound that usually signified to people either her presence, or that of the Governor’s sister, Allegra. Gardenia was only similar to the blonde woman in one respect; they were both stylish dressers. However, if Allegra was day, then Gardenia was a matching night to Lucius’s darkness. She always dressed in dark shades, and carried an aura of frosty disdain. Today, she wore a crisp black dress, ludicrously expensive but well worth the money. She was a stunning girl, with creamy pale skin, a curvy figure and an abundant mass of long, black hair, which she always wore hanging loose down her back. Her beauty could catch her enemies off-guard; who would have thought that one owning such lovely looks could be capable of inflicting so much harm? Gardenia enjoyed the fact that she was dangerous. It made her a suitable match for the Governor, and she was intent upon making him see it.

Soon, she turned one of the corners leading into the main corridor. However, there was a little cluster of hopelessly inefficient wardens barring her route through the doors – and, more importantly, she realised with a thudding heart, barring the governor’s way. He had come round the opposite corner, the way leading to the cell blocks. He’d obviously been interrogating a prisoner, then – someone important. The Governor didn’t visit just anyone.

He had not seen her yet. Composing herself, Gardenia strode forward, her stance confident and poised, head raised, shoulders thrown back. Her expression was one of frosty contempt as she walked past Governor Nylander himself without so much as glancing at him. Instead, she seemed to have focused her attention on the group of wardens. Suddenly, a threatening, thundering voice issued forth from her flips; it didn’t sound as if it belonged to her. “Make way for the governor!” she thundered, inflicting a collective flinch on the panicked wardens. Immediately, they drew back from the doors. Only then did Gardenia turn her head towards Lucius, stepping back with a slight bow of her head to indicate that the way was clear. Then she fell into perfect step beside him, her strides just as long and just as swift.

“I simply cannot abide incompetence,” she said, in a somewhat milder tone of voice, unknowingly echoing Lucius’s thoughts. “If I may, I will assist you to review the situation, governor.” She was so efficient, polished; the perfect worker. She had deliberately put herself in Lucius’s way to capture his attention. A part of her was glad that this catastrophe had occurred, because it allowed her a chance to make him see how ideal it would be to have her always close at hand. In a beautiful strike of luck, Adrianna was not present. Gardenia wouldn’t have to put up with her trotting around after Lucius this time. She loathed the other young woman; not that she’d let anyone know this.

She spoke no more as they walked along in matching speed; but she was alert to all of her surroundings, every movement, every action. She paused briefly to question passers by, to instruct a warden to redouble his efforts. Beside Lucius, she could have been an equal for all one could know, instead of a mere assistant; she displayed qualities that she knew he would appreciate, that she purposefully deployed. Gardenia intended to catch him – and her obsession gave her willingness to be patient, whilst waiting to get her prey.

~~~

As the cell door slammed shut behind them, Allegra did not waste a moment. She went forward towards Dylan, who was sitting on his mattress, half-collapsing to her knees. Her expression displayed mingled emotions: shock, hope, perhaps even fear. Her breathing was slightly rapid, as the alarms rang noisily outside. She scanned his face; he looked incredibly pale. Opening her mouth to speak, her throat was dry. Shaking her head, she summoned all of her strength to her. Lucius had gone, and had given her the perfect opportunity to set Dylan free, for that was what this was. Amidst all the chaos, she’d be able to smuggle Dylan out of the Tower. She could accomplish all of this, if she had his trust. Watching him, she got the feeling that he believed that he’d been betrayed.

“Dylan,” she said. Her voice had lost all of it’s sunny sparkle, it’s manipulation. She sounded worried. “I had to come here, to see how you were. I’d heard that charges were being brought against you, I couldn’t simply stand back and let it happen.” Her bracelets jangled as she reached forward hesitantly to touch his arm. He seemed like a ghost of a man. If they were to achieve this, then he needed his wits about him. “Dylan?” she leaned forward, desperate that he should respond. She paused, her brow furrowing. She wondered what had happened in those short moments she’d been away from the cell, putting into motion her plan. With a sudden flash of realisation, she sucked in her breath. “Whatever Lucius has told you, it’s all lies,” she said. “It won’t be true. That’s what he does. He wants to break your spirit.” Slowly, she got up to her feet, gaining her balance swiftly, despite her towering heels. Bending down, she slid her arm underneath Dylan’s shoulders and helped him to his feet. She didn’t know if this was necessary or not, but whatever the case, he seemed out of sorts.

It wasn’t often that Allegra felt so panicked. But it was her desperation to see Dylan safely out of the prison cell that made her feel nervous. Her defences were down, and this made the doctor possibly the only person who had ever seen her displaying such human emotion – or at least, the first person in many long years indeed. Allegra’s hands itched to light a cigarette; she needed one so badly, to calm her nerves, but now wasn’t the time or the place. First things first: she needed to tell Dylan what was going on.

“The alarms you hear outside are going off by my order,” she informed him. Her expression was now solemn, and her gaze did not waver for a moment. “I have used what leverage I can afford to display to create an atmosphere that will allow you to escape. The wardens will be off their guard whilst searching the second floor, the building will be evacuated. And you must come with me.” Her words were slightly hurried in her haste. Taking another step towards the doctor, the skirts of her shimmering grey gown glimmered slightly in the faint candlelight. She looked at him steadily, willing him to say something. Quietly, she voiced her worst fear. “Do you not believe me? I didn’t trick you, you know… I didn’t betray you. Did you really think I could stoop to such disloyalty?” Swallowing, she wanted to brush away her own words. She longed to regain her cheerful exterior, her dazzling smile. If she pretended not to feel anything, then perhaps this wouldn’t be so difficult.

Giving up on words, she took Dylan by the wrists and gently pulled him towards the door, which she opened a crack. A line of light shone into the room. She could hear no footsteps outside in the corridor. All of the activity would now be going on in the second floor, where the supposed security breach had occurred. The alarms still rang relentlessly. Glancing over her shoulder, Allegra regarded Dylan. “Are you going to let me help you?” In that moment, her grey eyes displayed a wisdom that she scarcely allowed herself to display. Her face had softened, but she’d lost none of her determination. The woman Dylan was looking at was very definitely a human being, something to be wondered at, when that woman was Allegra Nylander.

~~~

Garnet was vaguely aware of being lifted up from the floor, of arms around her, cradling her head against a warm shoulder. Despite the exhaustion that plagued her still, even in this unconscious state, and the darkness that covered her mind, she felt safe in a way she had not experienced before. Her breathing was steady, although her skin had drained nearly all of it’s colour. Moments passed without her being exactly certain about what was going on; everything seemed hazy and vague. She knew that someone was carrying her. Soon, she sank into the soft mattress, her cheek brushing the clean, cool pillow. Her features appeared calm and untroubled, her hair framing her face almost like a halo. Her sense of smell had not been affected, it seemed, because she could smell flowers near. Wherever she was, it seemed familiar. Safe.

Garnet soon drifted into dreams, different worlds, and her mind seemed to shift into focus as her reverie conjured up memories. She dreamt of her parents, their house across the street from the Hart’s. Voices softly whispered to her, conversations she’d had many years ago. Her eyelids remained closed, her eyelashes brushing her cheeks. The dreams faded in and out, blurring into the here and now as she became more and more aware of what was going on around her. Her eyelids fluttered slightly now, as her attention was caught by a snatch of conversation out in the corridor. The voices were familiar; they belonged to Adrianna and Cameron.

“Stop this, be honest. Where should you be right now?”

“Where should you be, Cameron? Lecturing your all-grown-up little sister on how she should run her life or sitting by the bedside of the girl you refuse to profess your love for?” ... “Life isn't simple, Cameron.”

…What had she just heard there? Surely, she had mistaken one of the dreams for reality. She was unaware of her furrowed brow as she struggled to make sense of what was real and what was not. A wash of darkness swept over her thoughts again, only momentarily, before there was a tiny burst of new noise, footsteps going gently down the stairs. Her eyelids flickered again, opening into small slits as her eyesight adjusted to the sudden light in the room. Her vision swam slightly, but it was slowly returning to it’s usual clarity. She let out a small exhalation of breath, which tickled a few strands of her hair. Garnet blinked several times as she attempted to grasp at what had happened. She’d been holding Adrianna’s arm… and then… darkness. And then all the confusion that had followed afterwards.

Had she really heard what she thought she had? “…sitting by the bedside of the girl you refuse to profess your love for?” Had Adrianna said that Cameron loved her? That couldn’t be true… it couldn’t possibly be true… could it? Trying to sit up, Garnet let out a small cry of frustration as the weakness of her own body did not allow her to see what was going on.

Calming herself, she focused on the room around her. Her head turned, and she saw the Bleeding Hearts, so lovingly arranged in the vase at her bedside. This was their parents’ room. Cameron and Adrianna’s… she remembered it from her childhood, how she and Adrianna had used to sneak in to play dress-up in her mother’s clothes. For a moment she reflected fondly on this memory, before she noticed Cameron himself, sitting on the bed beside her. Her heart leapt, and she wondered if it had just turned over in her chest. “C…C…Cameron,” she stammered. Her voice came out slightly wheezy. She still felt overwhelmed with tiredness. But she also felt seized by confusion; she desperately wanted to know if what she had heard was real or not. She couldn’t ask, though – she had no desire to make herself look like an idiot.

“I’m so sorry, Cameron,” she whispered. “I’ve just… I’ve just been so tired. I’ve hardly slept, and… oh my god, what a fool I must look… I’m so sorry… so…” she coughed, her voice giving out. Blinking hard, she summoned all of her strength to her, and she forced herself into a sitting position, so that she could look at Cameron properly. Despite how tired she was, her eyes had lost none of their shine, and her smile, despite it’s weariness, was as radiant as it had ever been. Edging towards him, she reached out a shaking hand.

Garnet gazed at Cameron, running her eyes over his face, asking herself again and again if she had simply imagined that small snippet of conversation. For a moment, her outstretched hand did not come to rest, only lingered in the air, fluttering, tracing the outline of Cameron’s face. She tried to steady her hoarse breathing, and she wobbled slightly as she attempted to keep upright. Finally, her fingers touched his skin, moving along his cheekbone. Hazily, she noted how smooth it was. She wanted to find some way to convey how she felt, how grateful she was… for it had been he who’d carried her up the stairs, she knew. She didn’t need to ask.

Her smile widening gently, Garnet’s slender frame eventually shivered, and fell forwards towards Cameron. She was afraid that she would topple him over, and so she tried to hang on to her balance, curving her hand around the back of his neck, her fingertips touching his black hair, before she collapsed against his shoulder. She closed her eyes, hating how tired she felt, but wanting to hang onto this moment all the same.

“I… I…” Could she say it? Her throat felt thick with unsaid words. “I l…” clearing her throat, this was all that she could manage. With a deep breath, she settled against Cameron’s chest, feeling too sleepy to comprehend what she had almost admitted.

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PostPosted: November 28th, 2010, 4:12 pm 
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[[It's not my turn to post, but I really wanted to add this bit. The end of the beginning, maybe. :teehee:]]

The funny thing about arrogance, is usually that it rebounds upon the one that makes use of it. Alexander Marcus had never claimed to be better than anyone, never claimed to be important or of any worth at all; he had few friends to speak of and little of consequence to say to anyone else. Work mattered, and people didn't. They were just white noise. Inconvenient, but not really worth time and effort.

That's why being sent to die alone didn't phase him too much. Nylander wanted him to contemplate his destruction. Well, let's contemplate:

He'd spoken out again corruption that no-one else could or would fight.
He'd made sure he'd said what everyone else was thinking, without considering the consequences.
By doing so, he'd shown a significant number of people that by simply thinking the wrong thing, it could cost him his life.
He'd also shown them that he didn't care, because it was what he believed and that was something he would never sacrifice.

So, as he contemplated, he came to the conclusion that he had, indeed, caused them a fair amount of trouble, and congratulated himself. Any trouble for them was worth a bit of a trouble.

Hah, a bit? That's what he called it? As he thought, as the seconds passed, his head throbbed harder, his breath came in gasps and wheezes and he felt terrible, yet he knew the smile on his lips hadn't yet died. And why should it? They'd taken everything else from him: his sanity, his dignity, the few joys he'd had left in his life. When they'd arrested him, when they'd thrown him in some musty old cell in that wretched Tower they lived in, they hadn't realised they'd caged a lion. Bitterness and violence had overridden his usual state of mind and he'd been reduced to something feral, all instincts and unpredictability, perhaps irreversibly. To think of it made his heart pound, for he could barely remember he'd felt like before they'd exterminated all trace of his life but the memory of it.

As a ghost, he felt solid. As a being, he felt empty. As a man, he felt exhilarated. There was no better feeling than this; he had no connections, no need to conform to their society, and not a single wish to return to his days of misery and unending poverty.

Eyes closed, hair a mess - nothing unusual, it had been even when he hadn't been incarcerated in what the Wardens lovingly referred to as his “box” - he felt freer than he had ever done in his life. Had he opened his eyes, he would've seen colour like none he'd seen before; had he been able to breathe clean air, it would've washed every unsavoury thought he'd ever had.

Oddly, though, as time progressed, each breath of air tasted sweeter. So far, the welcoming embrace of Death looked to be a picnic; he could lay here and laugh at his enemies' expense until the end of time. Slowly, fuzziness broke through the overall numb feeling he had, and he felt slowly more aware that something sharp was cutting into his shoulder.

Without though, he pushed and rolled over onto his back and threw open his eyes.

He wasn't confronted with Death, nor any of his underlings; he wasn't greeted by a pure, cheery angel, there to guide him to a Better Place. There wasn't even the familiar, sour face of a Warden, Governor or person of importance eyeing him with disdain. There was just the grey of the cave roof, glinting brightly as something yellowy in colour reflected from its surface.

From then, he noticed several things in quick succession:
Firstly, the pain he'd experienced while breathing seemed to have abated now that he was not laying chest-down. The sharp, acidic taste of the air still coated his tongue, but it didn't hurt any more.
Secondly, he did feel pain, but it was that commonly associated with neglecting to eat. This wasn't a primary concern.
Thirdly, when he'd rolled onto his back, he'd lifted a hand to his shoulder to try and ease the ache out of it. His hand had come away a warm shade of scarlet, which made him stare.

When he'd been locked up, he'd been wearing his usual dress, fit for any of the electricians he knew. When he'd been brought back from his ‘interview’ with the Governor, he'd been given something resembling a towel, and been instructed carelessly to wipe the blood from his face.
Finding the fabric stashed in a pocket, he tore off the stained part and used the rest as a makeshift bandage, cringing every time he felt the minor wound twinge but not stopping long enough to think about the pain. Once done, he concerned himself with the last two things he'd noticed.

Probably most importantly, he wasn't dead. He also wasn't sure whether this was a good thing or not. Should someone turn up to kill him, he'd decide that it probably wasn't such a good thing. Until then, he'd wait and see. Patience is a virtue, and all that.

On another note, the something that the limestone walls were reflecting was sunlight. It streamed thick and fast from the entrance to the mine tunnel, lighting up the immediate area and casting shadows that looked almost elegant. Standing, slowly and unsteadily, he meandered his way past the point where the stone walls ended and the air began, then inhaled sharply as he beheld a sight he never thought he'd see.

Blue, as far as the eye could see; a sky filled with naught but intense colour and light, the like of which he'd never seen before and, underneath it, nestled in a valley and almost undisturbed, a city. It looked so close, he was tempted to reach out and try and touch it, reduced to a bewildered child trying to solve a puzzle that's beyond him.

Stumbling backwards, some dark mood settled upon him as he realised staying was both an impossible and terrifying thought.

He'd have to go back.

Rage and the thought of vengeance flooded his system; suddenly he felt able and combat-ready; he wanted nothing more than to track down and reduce every last one of the Governors to the pathetic, miserable creatures they ought to be.

“Fine, then,” he spat, talking to no-one but the open air, the early spring plants that had tentatively pushed the soil away with their tender green stems, and the empty world that lay before him.

“I can feel it,” he murmured, unaware that he was speaking aloud and that no-one could hear him. “The beginning of the end. About time, too.”

Funny thing, arrogance. Nylander's would make him assume that the dead couldn't come back to haunt him.
He was mistaken and, sure as the Sun, he'd regret that mistake for the rest of his pathetically short, painful life. Alexander would make certain of it.

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PostPosted: November 29th, 2010, 10:16 am 
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[ Darky - your Alexandre post was really amazing! I really thought he was going to die! And now I'm wondering how on earth he'll make it back.. :P

Goldy - Wouldn't it be a nice idea, to have Gardenia's parents be Lilly's employers? They are obviously rich and powerful and perhaps this can be an interesting connection between the two of them? And I assume that Gardenia falls under the category of evil persons? :teehee:

Oh and just another thing. In my previous posts I said that Lilly was a blonde, but I found the absolute perfect picture for her, although the girl in the picture has red hair. So therefore she's now a redhead. For the picture, just clickeh!. ]



Dylan was left behind by Lucius, dazed and upset. His words still echoed in his throbbing head, over and over again. Was it true? Had those supplies belonged to other people in need? He had taken, no stolen, their medicines which had led to their deaths, a death of despair and pain? Such a truth was ungraspable; too horrible to comprehend. He had willfully send to people to their deaths.

The tinkling sound of bracelets nearby disturbed his dark thoughts. Someone called his name, someone was talking to him. He smelled her sweet parfume and a hint of cigarette smoke before opening his eyes, and he realised it was Allegra. She helped him to his feet. Although he swayed dangerously, he took a step back, away from her touch. Allegra's words were hushed and her tone had lost its usual flair. It took Dylan alot of effort to understand what she was talking about, but he had no patience to hear her out.

"You set me up.." he said, his tone flat and empty. Dylan didn't know what to feel anymore. He felt worn-out, used and degraded. He was a man of honour, a man of conscience, who pursued the idea that he could do good, to make the world at least a tiny bit better. He had always tried to believe in the goodness of men, however hard that was in the world of today. The treachery and meanness that was thrown at him, in the past hours, was baffling. It left him disillusioned and distrustful.
"You lured me and used me only to get rid of me?"

He looked at the sister of the Governor with hard eyes. She was gracious, elegant, beautiful, and beyond doubt powerful. Would she be capable of committing such lowly treason? Was there beneath that kind exterior a cunning and deceiving nature? Before this day Dylan could not have believed it; she really did seem committed to their cause.. But now he didn’t know.. Had he been able to befriend her while being in the knowledge that she was Lucius' sister? Dylan couldn't tell. Now she looked positively panicked, scared even. What had changed this woman to loose heart? Her worry seemed genuine and her appearance honest. Seeing her at a loss seemed almost unnatural; it was frightening.

Then Allegra started to explain her plan. How she'd arranged that the Wardens would be off guard. How they would be able to escape. Dylan looked at her, unbelief written on his face. For a moment he just looked at her, without saying anything. Often had they met in the dead of the night or between rushed shifts in the hospital, but now their meeting just seemed surreal, in a dark prison, the doctor's face and clothes smeared with blood and Allegra not being the glamarous actress she used to be.
Dylan was pulled towards the open door; his way out; his only escape. Then he would live..

Are you going to let me help you?

"Yes," Dylan finally answered. "Yes, you must help me to escape and if I get out…then I will do everything in my power to make your brother fall."

----

Lilly looked up when a cold draft went through the room. A new person had entered the room; a young woman, perhaps somewhat older than she was, with dark long curls and pale features. The woman embraced Garnet, after which Garnet introduced her as Adrianna, Cameron’s sister. Lilly smiled at her, while shaking hands and realised how awkward it had to be for Adrianna to find a total stranger in her own house, at this time of night. She was about to explain how she’d met Cameron and Garnet, when Garnet, who’d became increasingly pale, collapsed to the floor.
“Cameron.. What happened to her? Is she ill?” the redhead immediately asked worriedly. With difficulty she got up from the sofa and watched how he easily picked up Garnet and turned to her, telling her it was probably the exhaustion and that he was taking her upstairs. Lilly suddenly felt a rush of compassion for the blonde as she knew all too well how it was to work overtime, day after day, after day. It was exhausting and depressing, even more because the wage was just enough to pay all the bills.

There was a tensed silence after Cameron, with Garnet in his arms, had left the room. Lilly’s cheeks flushed red, as she believed that she somehow had to apologize to Adrianna for intruding in her house and witnessing this. But it was Adrianna, who broke the silence first.
“Oh yes! Of course, please do..” Lilly answered, still feeling embarrassed. As soon as Adrianna left her alone in the living room, she slumped back on the sofa, massaging her still painful side with her hand.

It somehow felt as if the safe and comfortable atmosphere had changed the instant that Adrianna had entered. Rushed footsteps could be heard from upstairs, the occasional sound of a closing door, and then suddenly voices, arguing voices that belonged to Cameron and Adrianna.

Lilly abruptly got up from the sofa and tried not to listen to what the fight upstairs was about. It was not her business to hear it and it was certainly not her business to mingle. She suddenly felt guilty of intruding in this family and its problems. Only now she realised how inappropriate it had been to just enter their lives, and bother them with her problems and worries. Everyone had secrets, all had problems, and Lilly blamed herself for being selfish to have intruded in this house, where Cameron and Garnet had enough problems of their own already.

The redhead wobbled over to the other side of the room and took her coat from the metallic peg and put it on. Her swollen belly now prevented the jacket from closing properly, but it did keep her somewhat warm. Suddenly Adrianna was standing in the doorway again.

You're welcome to go upstairs, if you'd like. Garnet's not awake, but she should be able to rest comfortably now.

“No, really, I think I can’t stay.” Lilly replied to the brunette’s invitation. Her freckled face flushed again and she made her way to the front door. “I probably shouldn’t have come. I’m sorry..” And before Adrianna could keep her from leaving, Lilly already stepped in the dark night. She turned a last time, throwing an apologetic glance at Adrianna, who still stood in the doorway. Behind her the lightened room looked cosy and inviting, compared with the cold outside, but Lilly had made up her mind. Garnet and Cameron had enough worries as it was, without her burdening them.

“It was nice meeting you..” she smiled at Adrianna, and then turned away and disappeared in the night.

The redhead turned left and right, hoping to find a point of recognition in the dark, but she could not recollect how they’d walked to Cameron’s house. Hurrying through the streets Lilly crossed a maze of alleys and streets, keeping her jacket closed with one hand, and supporting her fat belly with the other. Lilly halted when she entered a square with a statue of some important man which looked vaguely familiar. Out of breath she sat down at the foot of the statue, allowing herself a moment of rest.

“It’s just you and me then,” Lilly said sadly, one hand resting on her stomach. “It will be just the two of us..”

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O children, lift up your voice, lift up your voice,
Children, rejoice, rejoice..

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PostPosted: November 30th, 2010, 2:45 pm 
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Strides long and without pause, head held high in a way only the powerful can manage, Lucius certainly looked a picture, and a dark one at that. Not only was his expression still tinges with victory, and six-foot and a bit of him was drawn up to full height, with an intimidating look rooted in his eyes, staring down any Warden who thought himself brave enough to make eye contact. Any who tried quickly looked away, and it wasn't because they were afraid of being too audacious - they knew you didn't get anywhere nowadays if you didn't have the support of a Governor, and if you wanted to succeed, really succeed, you needed the support of one Governor in particular. That just so happened to be the man leisurely walking towards the second floor.

A shadow slipped by him; he'd had half a mind to call after it, make it explain itself, before he realised that it was in fact Gardenia, clearing the way for him, as so she should. The young woman wore an expression of deepest contempt as she beheld the Wardens, ordering them out of the way as if there were of little or no consequence to anyone. It wasn't true; his reports told him that should the Warden's force be disbanded, the city would be lost to criminals, anarchy and murderous traitors. He would've shuddered, but nothing could have made him more cold blooded than he was already; something in his very presence seemed to whisper the word chill.

As Gardenia called orders, the Governor remained silent, knowing that the girl took pleasure in her work and being quite happy to sit and watch his underlings squirm before him, unable to speak out or complain. As one of his aides, they had no right to complain about her orders: it was her privilege, her right to distribute his orders to anyone beneath her. So long as her actions did not contradict any previously given instructions, she was also required to think for herself enough to issue orders without his command; this she did well, and she knew it. It might've been something written on her features, but it was plain as day that she enjoyed her work. There could be no finer thing.

“I simply cannot abide incompetence,” she told him softly. “If I may, I will assist you to review the situation, governor.”

His height gave him strength, and strength gave him power: she spoke softly and calmly, but she knew she wasn't his equal, and it wasn't, from his vantage point, ever likely that she would be. How it must feel to always be one step behind another! Hah, he was glad he'd never have to feel so disgusted with himself.

“Nothing would give me more pleasure,” he replied dryly, barely glancing at her long enough to register her presence. It might've been useful to have had Adrianna present, at this minute; however, at that moment - one of the few - he had little, if any, idea where she was. It didn't concern him too much, for he certainly knew that she wasn't too social, and it didn't bother him that she spent long periods saying very little or nothing at all, for he had little interest in her views, opinions or even her life story. She'd proved easy enough to work with, despite her silence - she didn't follow her orders with quite as much enthusiastically as the woman clicking along beside him, but that didn't matter, just so long as she accomplished his goals and set in motion his plans. Nothing mattered except the next challenge, the next milestone. Eventually he'd get to where he wanted to be, and he couldn't do that without assistance or resistance; thankfully, resistance was easy to crush - as he'd done with the heart of the doctor, so wonderfully easily - and fear of death or incarceration kept everyone scared. It worked better at maintaining order than anything else that his predecessors had employed, he knew; he'd studied files at length, noted the body count of traitors and leaders alike.

He'd decided to change the world, for better or for worse. It'd worked.

As he rounded a corner after taking the long and irritating walk up the stairs to the second floor, he reached the scene: a dozen Wardens scattered here, there and everywhere in a anguished, chattering mess. The worst kind of chaos.

“So, who's going to explain to me why I've been called away from business to take care of minor matters?” he paused for effect, listening to the sweet, sweet silence.

“Come now, don't all speak at once.”

<center>- - -</center>

Hearing his name, Cameron turned to face Garnet, surprised but elated that she was awake so soon. She stuttered, but he suspected it was because she still wasn't entirely free of the dizziness she'd displayed downstairs.

For a second he simply looked at her, struck by the thought that she might've heard - or worse, been woken by - the hushed argument he'd had with Adrianna. Abruptly he felt as though his heart had fallen through the floor. Garnet looked as if she were about to cry she was so exhausted; now he thought about it, it was surprising that she hadn't collapsed before this. He wished he'd noticed this before, instead of being so caught up in reminiscing and enjoying the cosiness in pleasurable company.

“I'm so sorry, Cameron,” Garnet whispered softly, looking mortified. “I've hardly slept and... oh my god, what I fool I must look-”

He tried to cut her off with something light hearted and typical of him, but he couldn't find the words. He smiled sadly at her and reached for her hand, hoping to convey his feelings some other way seeing as his voice was useless.

As Garnet forced herself into a sitting position, taking great care to go as slowly as possible so she didn't overbalance and topple back to square one. As soon as he realised what she was trying to do, he moved closer and supported her as she moved, making sure that even if she did lose her balance, he'd be able to catch her with ease. There was no chance he's let her fall again. No chance.

To see her smiling was a relief, it let him breathe; a weight was slowly lifted and he found himself able to smile a little as he watched her persevere for the sake of not giving up. The hand she lifted to his face inched closer to brushing his skin and he almost held his breath; they sat in silence as them watched one another, smiling in silence, trying to find words to bridge the void. She obviously knew it'd been him to carry her away, upstairs, into the safe and the quiet. Quite aside from the fact that he was the only one around who was able to, and the fact that it was entirely possible she'd heard his and Adrianna's conversation, it was obvious he cared for her; even if she couldn't see how much he loved her, she'd notice that. How he hoped that wasn't just wishful thinking...

The young woman shivered, and immediately Cameron cast about for something warm, other than the covers of the bed. His eyes rested upon a soft blanket, folded neatly and laid on the bottom of the bed, ready for someone to unfold it and wrap themselves up. Evidently Adrianna kept their mother's customs going long after her death, if only for her own comfort. Adrianna had inherited something of her mother's quiet nature, that was certain, even if she looked more like her father.

Scooping the blanket up in a swift, fluid motion, Cameron had it unfolded and wrapped around Garnet's shoulders before she had time to collapse against his shoulder, wincing at the impact. Wrapping an arm around her, he smiled and laughed softly, feeling a little more at ease now the tension seemed to have been dispelled.

“Look at the two of us,” he murmured. “Always causing a fuss.”

He laughed, but something about his own words struck him as true before he'd realised what he said. He realised that if life were to continue as it had for the past goodness knew how many years, then the situation he beheld now would only get worse, and he'd end up stuck between his wish to see Garnet safe and his wish to continue doing good with his work. Thinking of it that way, he saw only one safe path: disappearing. They'd have to disappear completely, leave their whereabouts a mystery entirely. It'd be a gargantuan task; it might take weeks or months of preparation.

Even then, there was still the fact that Adrianna had refused to accompany him. He loved his sister, he really did, but he couldn't help - now, of all times - but feel held back by her unwillingness to experience change. Most of the time, he thought himself an understanding character, but it was incomprehensible to him why she thought it was impossible to simply disappear. It'd be easy enough to arrange a scene in which they appeared to 'die'; he could simply disappear for work one day and not return. People would assume the Government were behind it - come to think of it, they would be, in a way - and it'd mean that, for once, they'd be free of tyranny. Sure, it'd be hard, but what would you expect, living as an outlaw? Living as a ghost would take some adjusting to, but he was sure he'd adjust eventually. He was ready for this.

Garnet seemed to want to say something; he heard fractured words but couldn't make sense of them. Looking down past the mess of golden hair, he saw her watching him, face twisted with exertion and drowsiness, and he rested a finger to her lips, gently enough to stop her speaking but not enough to cause her discomfort.

“I'm sure it'll wait. You're more important at the minute. You should rest. Sleep.” he kissed her forehead softly in what he hoped wasn't too invasive a manner, then leant back against the soft pillows with her still partially cradled in his arms.

“Dream about something more peaceful than this place... or, if you really want, think about how much fun it'd be to set fire to your boss's curtains.”

<center>- - -</center>

Without warning, Lilly had slipped out of the door before Adrianna could brace herself for the inevitable chill. She was left, stood on her own porch, feeling a little emptier, a little colder. It was disheartening to see such a sweet character leave thinking she was imposing; it was evident that both Garnet and Cameron had been completely at ease in her presence. Adrianna thought Cameron naïve, at times, but he certainly - or at least, she hoped - he wouldn't be quite so trusting as to let someone potentially dangerous into the house. Not that Lilly, all smiles and gentleness, had given any impression of even buried hostility; quite the opposite.

Something like guilt settled upon Adrianna as she comprehended the dark streets, the cold silence and the fear Lilly must feel at having to walk home by herself so late. Guilt both was and wasn't a fear she was used to having; she knew it because every time she met the eyes of a forsaken soul, she felt it bubble within her until she felt she could stand it no longer. She often mistook it for the nagging of a conscience she was sure she had, somewhere, but she buried it beneath reasons, rationalizations and excuses, none of which made her feel better anyway. This time, she had a chance to redeem herself for seeming less than enthused about having a visitor, and she would. The world had a shortage of decent people, and she would've hated to have lost a friend for Cameron and Garnet - the latter especially, it was entirely the wrong era for a social person to exist. In a socially isolating job and forced to spend most hours working, garnet had little opportunity for escape from her solitude. Adrianna couldn't change her career, but she could make her free hours a little bit more bearable. She hoped it'd be worth something.

“Wait!” she called after the disappearing shape that was Lilly. “Please, wait!”

Without thinking, she grabbed her coat, closed the door behind her with a snap and ran faster than she thought she could, catching Lilly up within only a few minutes.

“Please...” out of breath, she rested a hand on the young girl's shoulder to stop her, unaware that, in the process, she'd probably scared the poor girl senseless. “I'm sorry. I ought not to have been so short, but...”

A pained expression crossed her face fleetingly ass she realised she had no good reason for acting as she had. None that she'd be able to give honestly, anyway - for she couldn't relate her ordeal tonight to a stranger, not when she'd refused to tell Cameron.

“Please don't count my attitude towards what Cameron and Garnet think of you. They're careful people, they wouldn't have let you in had they not thought you amiable.” Still keeping most of her emotion directed inwardly, Adrianna's eyes flickered toward the floor.

“I'm not the social butterfly my brother is. Change isn't so easy. I don't want to have offended you by being so awkward.”

Hopefully the young redhead would consent to allow Adrianna to walk with her; quite aside from being alone in the cold, Adrianna feared prying eyes and shadows that moved like a blade in the night.

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PostPosted: November 30th, 2010, 6:29 pm 
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Upon finally reaching the second floor, Gardenia and the governor were presented with utter disarray. Groups of wardens were standing around, arguing with each other, hunting for what had triggered the alarm. It was utter chaos. The best kind of chaos, in fact; for now was Gardenia’s chance to show the governor that in a situation such as this, it was not necessary for him to have Adrianna always tagging along. Nothing could have pleased Gardenia more than this golden opportunity to prove herself. Not one of the wardens answered Lucius’s question; indeed, there was no answer to give him. But even if there had been, none of them would have had the courage to reply to such an intimidating figure. Now was Gardenia’s opportunity. Stepping forward, leaving Lucius standing in his own circle of strength, she approached the wardens, addressing them as a collective. Her features were written with darkness and contempt. Her heart was thudding fast; no one looking at her could have guessed how elated she was.

“Well?” she demanded, her voice ringing out clearly. “Will no one answer Governor Nylander?” Her gaze blazed as she mentally cut down these armed men on Lucius’s behalf. “Will you only stand about idly, shivering like cowards? Like frightened children?” Her words cut like knives; sharp knives. She threw her accusations like an assassin might throw daggers. “There is a severe lack of order here, it seems, and this is most disappointing. Not only have you failed the governor, but you have also failed the people you profess to protect!” She allowed her upper lip to curl slightly upwards in a sneer, as she strode forward, her steps confident.

She paused before one warden, having picked him out at random. “Perhaps I’m wrong,” she mused. “Perhaps there is some hint of sanity left in this disastrous situation. You. What would you say is the cause of all of this?” She swept a hand to indicate the state of affairs at hand. Her fingernails were immaculately manicured. She had the pale, perfect hands of an indulged rich daughter, a girl who knew what she wanted, who would stop at nothing to get it. Life was a game to Gardenia, in which the rules were taking care of one’s appearance, looking out for yourself and indulging your own needs and ambitions without thinking twice about it.

The warden cleared his throat slightly, at a loss as to what to say. The governor’s aide was a terrifying figure just by herself, not to mention with the man himself standing behind her, surveying the situation. “Well…” he began, unsure. “To be honest… no one knows what is going on. We’ve searched every corner of this floor, and no intruder has been found.”

Gardenia waited. Her expression was a picture of patience. Her heart was thudding with elation, as she tipped her head to one side, as if considering the man’s words carefully. Slowly, a small smile swept over her cold features, and she let out a friendly, reassuring laugh. As if everything was going to be alright. As if the man before her would not be blamed. Uncertainly, he smiled too, hoping beyond hope that he could save his own skin. In this exact moment, the smile slipped off Gardenia’s face, leaving a wintry landscape of fury.

“I’m afraid your reply simply isn’t good enough,” she hissed, grabbing hold of the man’s collar, before abruptly shoving him backwards, sending him flying back into a group of his colleagues. There was a general hush. Every single warden present had a gun, but none would dare to turn it against Gardenia, and she knew this. Stepping backwards, she glared at them as if they were nothing more than beetles. She smoothly reached Lucius’s side without so much as a glance backwards, falling back into place beside him. Once more, she gave that small bow of her head, indicating to him that her turn filling in for him was over, that he could take center stage. Gardenia was skilled in seizing hold of power that was strictly not hers, and then handing it back on a golden plate of obedience.

Softly, she called out towards the wardens, her voice dripping with low disdain. “I hope you are satisfied, having provoked the presence of Governor Nylander,” she said. She spoke his name as if he was some high being, a god who had descended to walking amongst mere men. “It should not have to be made clear to you that he has much more important matters to address.” Falling silent again, she folded her hands neatly.

~~~

Allegra let out a small exhalation of breath as Dylan agreed that he would allow her to help him. For a few moments, she had truly believed that he’d seen her as a traitor, someone who had betrayed him and handed him in to Lucius. Now that he saw clearly her true intentions, it was an enormous relief. She could finally allow a smile to cross her features, a genuine one. It was still sunny and warm, but it lacked the hard edge that always came across whenever she was simply acting. Reaching out, she briefly rested her arm on Dylan’s sleeve as they stood there by the door. “I promise that you will be free,” she swore. Her voice was low, but filled with passionate sincerity. “As to my brother’s fall from glory – the time will one day come upon us. It’s only a matter of waiting.” Her eyes gleamed. “I’m glad that I can rely upon you for your help. You’re a good man, Dylan. Never forget it.” With those words, she opened the door another crack with the toe of her shoe. The way was clear, the corridor was utterly empty. Satisfied, she opened the door fully, and walked out. Looking over her shoulder towards Dylan, her smile was still constant. “Come. There’s an exit not far from here.”

She led the way out of the cell block, passing through the unguarded partitions easily and without fear. Soon enough, the severe surroundings faded away into luxurious carpeting and paneled walls. Allegra stayed vigilant, keeping an eye out for any unusual activity. Walking side by side with Dylan, she felt driven by a greater confidence, stronger than her already impressive self-assurance. Maybe it was the fact that she was in the company of a good person, for once. A lot of the people she interacted with daily were ambitious, heartless, and in the thrall of her brother. Only the people Allegra was close to, the ones she called friends, allies, ever caught a glimpse of the real woman – a woman capable of great compassion, kindness and bravery.

As they neared the turn of another corridor, Allegra was suddenly alerted by the sound of footsteps, coming their way. Acting quickly, she grabbed Dylan’s wrist and dragged him out of sight, slamming him against the wall in her haste, before he could go around the corner and become visible to an unfriendly eye. The footsteps passed them by, taking the path of the opposite corridor. She waited until they were audible no longer, and she released Dylan’s arms, stepping back. “My apologies,” she said, raising her eyebrows, barely concealing a laugh. “I think the way’s safe now.”

The nearest exit was only down the corridor; it was so near. For a moment Allegra wondered if it was too good to be true, that she had really aided Dylan’s escape with so little trouble. But this was really happening. Taking steps forward, she smiled over her shoulder at Dylan. “Come on, then. Your freedom’s very near indeed.” Suddenly, a thought occurred to her, and a slight frown crinkled her brow. Stepping back towards him, she spoke quietly, steadily. “It’s just occurred to me: where will you go after this?” She let the question hang, before she answered it herself. “I’d be glad to offer you my spare room – if you wish. You would be safe.”

~~~

Garnet felt a surge of gratitude when Cameron wrapped a warm blanket about her shoulders, closing her eyes as the warmth enveloped her, and his arm enfolded her into his embrace. She could not remember the last time she’d felt so safe, despite how ill she still felt. She felt as if she could luxuriate in the fact that someone cared about her. Ever since Cameron had been absent to attend to his work, she’d felt alone in the world, with only the cold chill of her books to keep her company. But it finally seemed as if things had turned around, as if everything might be alright after all. She listened to Cameron’s soft murmured words, his familiar laugh, and sleepily smiled back up at him.

When she attempted to get those significantly important words over her lips, and failed, Cameron put a gentle finger to her lips, preventing her inability to be articulate from mattering. Nothing could have surprised her more than the tender kiss he then placed against her forehead; her heart instantaneously started thudding harder. She wondered once again if the conversation she’d heard had actually been real. It was her dearest wish that it had not been a dream. There were so many things that she wanted to say, but she was still too tired to try and say them. Settling back against the pillows, she turned her head towards Cameron, watching him. He’d told her to sleep, but she just wanted to look at him, to search for some clue that he felt the same way.

She let out a small laugh when he mentioned an idea for a dream. She had certainly considered various ways of getting revenge on her boss for quite some time – not that she’d ever act on them. Her mind only rested on this briefly. She was very aware of Cameron’s arms around her. He was being so kind of her. Upon waking up, she’d been mortally ashamed of fainting as she had done – in her eyes, she’d displayed a weakness, and one that she’d been so careful to guard. She hadn’t wanted him to see just how tired she was, how much her work drained her energy. But now that he knew, it came as a relief.

She reached out towards him. She wanted to hold his hand, but she also wanted to touch his face again. Garnet needed to make sure that he was real, that he wouldn’t somehow slip away from her. She realised that she had remained silent for quite some time now, but that was because of her exhaustion. She cleared her throat slightly, letting her hand come to rest at his elbow. “Thank you for looking after me, Cameron,” she said quietly. “You’re good at it, you know.” It was a statement of fact. He was being so gentle, so kind, but then again, he always was. It was the kind of person he was, and that was what Garnet loved so much about him. She desperately wanted to tell him this, but she couldn’t seem to find a way of saying it outright. Besides, she wanted an assurance that he loved her. She needed to hear the words from his lips. Such a moment seemed so close that she could touch it, but she couldn’t help asking herself if she was simply reading too much into everything.

For a few moments, she remained silent, her hand slipping down from his elbow, instead tucking her arm about his waist, closing her eyes, pondering over his suggestion that she should sleep. It was tempting to let herself just drift away, but she was afraid of waking up and finding out that he was gone. When would they ever have another chance like this again, to simply be in each other’s company? She had work tomorrow, and it was a dismal prospect.

Just then, a memory popped into her head. She remembered the conversation she’d had with Cameron back in her office at work, how she’d asked him if he’d ever wondered what it was like up on the surface. After remembering this, everything seemed so clear; he’d promised her that, if the opportunity came into his hands, they would escape from this place, leave it behind, together. Her heart leapt, and she opened her eyes. With a very great effort, she raised her head, leaning up on one elbow, looking at Cameron intently.

“Do you remember what I told you?” she whispered. Her eyes looked very bright, despite her fatigue. She had begun to shiver again, despite the blanket wrapped around her shoulders. “Cameron?” her voice was brimming with hope, quavering with held-back emotion and excitement, but somehow, at the same time hushed and tranquil. “What we agreed… I said that if there was any way possible, I’d leave here… I’d leave here with you.” She looked at him steadily, and swallowed, summoning her courage to her. “I meant it, you know. Every word.” Wobbling slightly with the effort it took for her to remain upright, she slumped back down against the pillows, snatching her breath. But she turned her head to regard him, determined to go on. “I can’t help feeling… that there’s no time at all like the present… I would do it, you know… I would do anything. Anything… to get out of here. To be free.” With those final words, she took another deep breath, with a small smile, content that she had had her say.

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PostPosted: December 1st, 2010, 1:12 pm 
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Lilly sat there, silently, in the dark. It frightened her; a lot of things that were going these days frightened her, but she just had to get through it, that was what she’d told herself. After each day would come another, still filled with loneliness, tiredness, and artificial darkness, but she would get used to it in the end.

The redhead let out a small laugh when she felt a soft kick between her ribs. “ I know, little one” she smiled. “You will be there and then there won’t be any loneliness anymore.”

Lilly suppressed a shiver and sighed. Although being pregnant brought her both happiness, it was still accompanied with a lot of pain and worry. Not the worry of how she should raise her child, no, soon after that horrible moment she’d found out that she was pregnant, she’d realised that she couldn’t give up the baby, nor did she have the money for such a costly procedure.

Lilly still remembered it clearly.. how often she’d felt sick at work, until the day that she’d actually thrown up there and was sent home, angrily. How she’d stared for minutes, perhaps longer, at that blue line at her pregnancy test. The horrid memories of that dark night weeks ago had not vanished from her mind, but that the nightmare was to continue, that she’d never expected. She’d been afraid at first, disgusted that she was to carry the child of such a monstrous man. But after some time she realised that it was hers as well, and that the child was just as innocent as she’d been. She couldn’t abandon it.

She’d been determined to raise she child only with love and care, despite all the gossips and the names she was called. Lilly had not been able to tell the truth because first no one would even believe her and then she still feared any retribution from his side as for not keeping her mouth shut. She had already taken the opportunity to cut her salary and expected Lilly to be grateful for keeping her job, since it was so hard nowadays to find a proper maid these days..
But what if they finally realised that she could be any more exploited? What if they fired her? No one would hire her again, not with an unlawful child..

Suddenly a figure rushed over the square in her direction. Darkness concealed the identity of the person, who could as well be a Warden or anyone else up to no good. The distance between her and the stranger was only a few metres. Lilly struggled to her feet, frightened, and was about to run when she heard the voice of the person, that turned out to be a woman. It was Adrianna. Lilly turned towards her, her eyes wide and her hands protectively on her stomach.
“Oh Adrianna!” she exclaimed relieved, her face slightly pale of the shock. “You gave a fright..” She smiled at the brunette, who looked out of breath but struggled for words.

Please don't count my attitude towards what Cameron and Garnet think of you. They're careful people, they wouldn't have let you in had they not thought you amiable. I'm not the social butterfly my brother is. Change isn't so easy. I don't want to have offended you by being so awkward.

Tears welled up in Lilly’s eyes and started to roll down her freckled cheeks. The idea that Adrianna had followed her, only to tell her not to be offended, and that she cared about what she thought and about her being friends with Cameron and Garnet, was just overwhelming.

“I’m sorry..” Lilly said with a shaky voice, while tears continued to flow. “It’s just that you, your brother and your friend Garnet are like the nicest people I met in such a long time. And I’m so alone and scared of giving birth.. I just- ..” Lilly stopped talking for a moment, as she couldn’t express in words what the friendship, that Adrianna offered, meant to her.

She took both of Adrianna’s hands in hers, and squeezed them slightly. A watery smile appeared on her tear-stained face. “I hope I haven’t scared you now.. I tend to come across like a scary ticking time bomb.”

------

With a last nod, Dylan followed Allegra into the dark, torch-lit corridors. The woman guided him with long and determined steps. She seemed completely calm and aware of where she was going. The corridors were completely abandoned, like she’d promised and soon, as they ascended stairs to higher floors, the hallways looked more friendly and even decorated. It was an unimaginable thought that the Governor worked here, in his luxurious office on one of these higher floors, while down in the Tower prisoners had to rot in cold cells.

He was just about to ask Allegra about what time it was, for his stomach ached with hunger and his head throbbed of his headache and exhaustion, his body wasn’t a trustworthy indicator anymore, when she grabbed his wrist and slammed him against the wall in a darker corridor. Dylan muffled a growl of pain and a curse and waited breathlessly how the footsteps passed.

“Ouch..” he murmured, as he touched the back of his head. His hand was covered with blood again. “Are you trying to kill me?” A painful grin was on his face and he looked at her, playfully. “You don’t happen to have any painkillers in any pockets of that fashionable gown of yours?”
As Allegra checked if the coast was clear, she brought up an inevitable subject: what next?

“I’m not sure yet. I didn’t dare to think so far ahead, about my options after I was free, until it really had happened..” Dylan was quiet for a moment, trying to process all what had happened, and to think ahead. But upon hearing Allegra’s proposal he suddenly asked: “Why did you save me? Why didn’t you leave me there to die? If your brother finds out that I’m gone.. he’ll know you helped me.”

He took a step closer to Allegra, suddenly aware of what danger she was in. “Allegra,” he said, his tone soft and serious. “He must never find out that I escaped. Forge paper, bribe every Warden if you must, but you have to make sure I died..”


[ FWEEE! I'm so excited ! :happy: ]

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PostPosted: December 2nd, 2010, 12:03 pm 
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[I've been writing this with my new love, Ludovico Einaudi, playing in my ears. I swear, it made it so much more amazing. Image *sniffle* ]

A surge of guilt washed through Adrianna as she realised she'd startled Lilly, and it showed on her face. Lilly could well have encountered any manner of person that night; it hadn't been a good idea to run after her in what could perhaps have been construed as an alarming fashion. The relief on the red head's face was plain, and Adrianna suddenly found herself wishing she'd made it a little clearer that her presence was a non-threatening one.

As she'd spoken, Lilly seemed more and more prone to tears. As they spilled out of her bright eyes and rolled down her smiling cheeks, she seemed to want to convey many things at once without the use of words. Feeling herself smiling a little too, despite chaos of the night, Adrianna felt herself grow fond of the young woman before her in a very short space of time. It was impossible to stay in close proximity to such genuine loveliness without feeling either infuriated or better for it; in Adrianna's case, it was the latter, without a doubt.

“I'm sorry..” Lilly said shakily and more tears flowed freely over her already damp cheeks. She seemed so fragile, so close to breaking point that the least bit of kindness surprised her in the nicest way possible. Adrianna was glad that garnet and her brother had stumbled across Lilly, for she so evidently needed a friend - and those two were certainly people she would be able to depend on without fear or reservation.

“It's just that you, your brother and your friend Garnet are like the nicest people I met in such a long time. And I'm so alone and scared of giving birth... I just-”

“You won't have to be alone any more,” Adrianna assured her softly. “I'm not around as often as I'd like to be, but Cameron should be around - and Garnet won't be far away, I'm sure. Don't be shy.” she laughed gently, sounding just like Cameron.

Lilly took ahold on her hands, squeezing them ever so slightly, showing her appreciation in more than words. Adrianna held on, aware that Lilly was more in need of a comforting presence than she was.

“I hope I haven't scared you now... I ten to come across like a scary ticking time bomb.”

“You're not,” she affirmed. “Certainly not. Compared to everyone I work with, you're an angel. I can honestly say I've met no-one quite so sweet-tempered as you.”

Honesty. Not something that came often of naturally with Adrianna, but she felt it was needed here; Lilly needed a firm, reassuring presence that wouldn't lie to her. For once, she felt the need to protect someone other than herself. It was a strange urge, but it made the night air feel slightly warmer, though she couldn't identify why: she was entirely unused to feeling that came with someone else's gratitude. There was both little opportunity and little motive for her try such an act.

“You shouldn't be out on your own right now. Do you mind if I walk you home?”

<center>- - -</center>

To her credit, Gardenia seemed furious with the chaos was strewn across the entire second floor. Her emotional involvement in the situation was by no means necessary for him, but it added greatly to his amusement. The Wardens, stricken by his presence, were then set on edge as they were reduced to naughty school boys, in front of the Governor, by one of the Governor's key instruments. None dared contest Gardenia's violent rebuke, especially as he hadn't shot her down yet. She'd keep going until she saw fit, until she went too far and he had to restrain her. The latter was unlikely, as she was well aware of the action she was entitled to take and actions that were considered unfit in such public places. In that respect, she was much better at her job than Adrianna.

“Well? Will no one answer Governor Nylander?” Gardenia demanded of the dozen or so armed guardians of the Tower and its counterparts. It was shameful to think that these men, so ready to fight, to wound and to maim any others were so silent and so fearful in the presence of one man and the servant who adored him. Together, they were a fear-inspiring pair, but neither really acknowledged this fact. It wasn't as interesting as the explanation the Wardens would have to make up to be able to satisfy their questions.

“Will you only stand about idly, shivering like cowards? Like frightened children? There is a severe lack of order here, is teem, and this is most disappointing.” She addressed them as she would an army that had fallen below the standard expected of it. She was a force of nature, and one to be reckoned with; Lucius liked that quality about her. That and her unceasing obedience.

“Not only have you failed the Governor, but you have also failed the people you profess to protect!” A sneer curled her upper lip as she stopped before a single Warden, randomly singling him out as her victim. Watching in silence with cold grey eyes, Nylander gave the distinct impression of having neither patience nor interest in the scene. Inwardly, he observed every face carefully, especially that of Gardenia: what she didn't know what that he was assessing her carefully, as he was always. Adrianna never knew that she was under constant scrutiny either, though she probably had more of an inkling now he'd sent for her out of hours; it gave away the fact that he'd known exactly where she was. For all of half a second, he vaguely wondered if she would later confront him about that. He almost laughed; he doubted it highly.

Had he recognised Allegra for what she was, he might've seen her as something like Gardenia; a formidable ally, one he would be able to depend upon for quite some time before she snapped due to the weakness of her own humanity. It was to be expected and he didn't particularly care; these people, every last one of them, was expendable. They didn't matter. They were tools he used to achieve that which he desired.

“Well...” the slow, uncertain voice of the singled-out Warden began, testing the water, as it were. “To be honest... no one knows what is going on. We've searched ever corner of this floor, and no intruder had been found.”

The expression Gardenia wore changed to one that, had she worn it as anything but a mask, Lucius would have removed for her. Her lips curved into a patient, even gentle smile, and her face was one that might've inspired confidence in her, should the person looking upon her be as naïve a soul as the Warden who stood before her now. As she both verbally and physically reduced him to nothing. he was now irrelevant, unimportant. She had turned him into something so loathsome that, for the next week or more, those who worked with him would give him the cold shoulder, ignore his presence, all in a effect to regain the favour of Nylander and make him see that they had no wish to be so foolish.

As Gardenia made her way back to him, she tossed a few final, disdainful words over her shoulder before returning to obedient silence. He gave the assembled soldiers an icy glance, eyeing each in turn, making them shiver though he made no particular gesture of disgust to any, then raised his head so as to give the impression of looking down at them - at which point, his height was certainly an advantage. He didn't have to say a single word to maintain order; even the man Gardenia had, for lack of a word with more accurate connotations, assaulted, dared not move to check for broken bones, cuts, bruised or dislocated joints, because the Governor was still around, omitting a field that put a cold, penetrating fear into the heart of all men within seeing distance.

Pleased, the Governor took his turn to speak, making sure he did not disappoint. He would give no lengthy lecture about their actions, because every single man already knew he'd done wrong in the Governor's eyes and would, no doubt, make sure that such an occurrence never happened again. The single best thing about the Wardens: they learned quickly.

“There will be no next time.” His voice carried without him having to project it, displaying clearly his power over everyone around him. Everyone clung to the words, terrified to miss one should it mean that they'd regret it in the future. “Disappoint once more and you shall be replaced. Make no mistake, I find it to be no inconvenience. Do not overestimate your importance.”

With that, he turned, without signalling to Gardenia; she would realise and follow. For now, he had bigger issues, and they started, and finished, with his little sister.

<center>- - -</center>

“I carried you up a few stairs. I'm hardly a qualified nurse,” Cameron laughed again. “Although I'm sure their uniform would suit me.”

Deflecting compliments with a joke was a habit of his; it stopped him hoping too much and being disappointed. Several times he'd thought that doing so seemed callous, but Garnet never seemed to take offence, and so he had continued, albeit more gently than before. It wasn't that what she said meant nothing, it was that it meant altogether too much to him; his heart sprouted wings when she thanked him, and fluttered madly when she stated his talent for it.

While he watched, a shadow of contemplation crossed Garnet's face, and she seemed on the verge of saying something. He desperately wished to urge her, to find out what she wanted to say, but he thought that pushing her was unwise. Right now, life was comfortable, peaceful and quiet. Disrupting that would mean shattering the first bit of calm he'd felt since he'd left home months ago, an action he wouldn't undertake simply to satisfy his curiosity.

Garnet wrapped an arm around his waist and held him close for a few moments, and he closed his eyes to enjoy how close and warm she was. He left her contemplation uninterrupted, but started a trail of his own thought: what would happen when he had to disappear again, off to work in a dark, dismal place at who knows which end of the city, among sour workers who wished they were anywhere else but where they were; among people who needed chivvying up every morning just so they started their work on time. It was saddening to think of such a place after the warmth and richness of the conversation and laughter they'd had, together with Lilly, tonight. A sigh escaped him before he could stop it and he opened his eyes, once more acutely aware that sometime in the near future, his happiness would end - or, in the nicest of circumstances, be put on hold for a while. Cameron's mind was suddenly overrun with a deep, powerful desire to leave everything behind, just pack up and leave... forget the world and run. His heart, though, felt tethered here, to Garnet but also to Adrianna, though she wasn't around much. He suspected that the idea of his coming back was part of what had sustained his sister, and he wasn't wrong; he was unsure how he felt about her. She was adamant that she couldn't come, but he'd seen a desperate wish in her eyes, one that she could. If he knew her, and he did, there was much more to her life than she was telling him.

A little closer to home, though, Garnet was once again struggling to sit up so she could watch him with steady, bright eyes.

“Do you remember what I told you?” she murmured softly to him as she watched. Cameron instinctively sat forwards himself, crossed his legs and rested a comforting hand on her shoulder to let her know that he would be there should she lose her balance again. She was shivering slightly, but her touch was warm; she began to act as if something was on her mind. Frowning ever so slightly, Cameron watched her, silent except from his steady breathing, concerned that she was spending too much effort on him instead of resting what little she had. He'd been about to open his mouth to tell her this when she spoke, halting all his thoughts.

“What we agreed... I said that if there was any way possible, I'd leave here... I'd leave here with you.” Something about the way she looked at him seemed intensely fragile, nervous, as if she were waiting for him to make or break her day. Pressure filled his mind as he wondered what could be so important to her, but she was already speaking, and he had little time left to guess.

“I meant, it, you know. Every word.” She fell back against her pillows, unable to stay upright by her own power any more. “I can't help feeling... that there's no time at all like the present... I would do anything. Anything... to get out of here. To be free.”

Anything. The thought had crossed his mind before, in the form of a question: what would you do to be free? The answer was, he wasn't sure. He was also sure that he wouldn't know until the point where he was tested where, if he wasn't ready, he'd regret it.

Filled with a rushing recklessness he wasn't accustomed to, le laid back down, facing Garnet, smiling already.

“I know there's one thing I wouldn't do,” he told her softly, not quite meeting her eyes, hearing the blood thumping in his ears, heard his own voice at the back of his head begging him to tread carefully, but he wasn't paying attention. There was a wild gleam in his eyes, and he'd been waiting for the moment to come when he just couldn't pretend any more. He'd tried to speak his mind without words, but nothing seemed to get through; it was time.

“I wouldn't sacrifice you if it cost me my freedom, my life... I wouldn't care.”

One of his hands found hers and held on tight. Green-brown eyes rose to meet hers and he faced her, honestly for the first time in over ten years. A slight, natural smile decorated his face, lighting it up as it hadn't in ages.

“Garnet, I've loved you for years but I never could say. I don't want to hide it from you any longer. I love you.”

<center>- - -</center>

Across the city, a young maid was going about her business as usual. She'd just made her master's bed; it was now complete with soft, dazzling white under sheets and a plush, blood-red velvet throw over it. She'd arranged it perfectly, without a single crease, then arranged the many cushions and pillows in a fashionable manner about the headboard. The curtains either side of the bed matched the velvet perfectly, their rich colour contrasting nicely with the wooden furnishings, stain dark to create an atmosphere of wealth and power. All decorations in every room of the extensive house were tasteful but lavish, elaborate yet intimidating, but it was meant to be like that: you certainly weren't supposed to feel comfortable in this house. It was supposed to have you on an edge.

As she moved from room to room, extinguishing candles and righting the objects that adorned delicate tables, mantelpieces and shelves, she hummed quietly to herself, thankful that she'd soon be able to go and sleep in the housekeepers' quarters. Her master always rose late, so she' have a little leisure time in the morning; she'd enjoy that.

Folded clothing in hand she made her way into his parlour, where there were armchairs of every size and nature gathered here there and everywhere; for an old man, he certainly had many guests. He was influential, charming; you didn't refuse the company of a man like that.

Setting the clothing down on a table where it wouldn't be noticeable or in the way, she set about gathering the equipment she needed to douse the fire in the grate. As she picked her way carefully across the room, simple dress rustling slightly, and set her things down on the hearth, she turned and was greeted by a sight she never would've expected to see.

The scream she let loose reached the other end of the house; the terror it contained set everyone who heard it on edge, and it brought a squad of armed men charging into the room where they found the hysterical maid crouched in a corner, hiding her face and sobbing uncontrollably.

The leader of these men was a middle aged man, experienced, well-trained; he knew what he was doing, and he ignored the young woman. They'd never be able to get anything out of her anyway, she'd still be in shock. She wouldn't make an ounce of sense if they let her lay down for an hour - she'd just have to be taken to the hospital later, or at least to the on-site nurse.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of what had scared her so much.

The master of the house was slouched, shoulders against the wall, next to an alcove decorated with gold. His eyes stared straight ahead in a dark, sinister sneer, completely sightless. The rich clothing he wore, that clearly marked him as ‘upper class’, was tonight a light grey suit, perfectly pressed, with a shirt that must have, once, been a glorious shade of white. It wasn't any more.

His legs were splayed, as if he'd staggered backwards, into the wall, then leaned upon it to keep himself standing but, inevitably, had slide down, his own limbs unable to sustain his weight long enough for him to get to one of his comfortable, much-used armchairs. His fingers, sunken into the thick pile of the carpet, had formed claws, though the cause wasn't quite clear.

At a distance, he seemed to be wearing an awful lot of ostentatious jewellery about his chest; this was proven to be incorrect, after closer inspection, and the reason for the colour change of his shirt was abruptly realised.

He wasn't wearing jewellery. The guard doubted he even owned much; he thought the stuff a pretentious waste of money, of which he had plenty.

It was a knife. A beautiful blade, sharpened to perfection, glinting silver in the firelight; the handle was hand carved, and was ornate to the point of being excessive. It was the kind you mounted on a plaque and hung on a wall to decorate a room and threaten your guests, you didn't use it to commit a murder.

It had pierced the old man's heart. At his age, he hadn't stood a chance. The bloodstained shirt he wore clung to his skin and his contemptuous face continued to express disgust for someone none of them could see. The most disturbing thing wasn't the fact that he was dead, it wasn't the fact that his shirt was stained as red as the velvet throw the maid had so carefully laid upon the bed; it wasn't even the fact that he'd been left with absolutely no dignity left in him - his eyes hadn't been closed, the murderer hadn't even removed his knife.

It was that there was a small, blood splattered tag attached to the blade's handle with a short length of coarse string, just enough that it dangled and flapped in the turbulent air currents. Upon it, written in an immaculate, calligraphic script, was one word that, for one so beautifully written, sent chills down the guards' backs.

“Alert the Wardens, the Governor and Lady Nylander!” he called to everyone in the room. “Casimir Nylander is dead.”

One word.

<center>[font=monotype corsiva]Expendable[/font]</center>

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PostPosted: December 2nd, 2010, 3:05 pm 
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(Soooo excited! :-D )

Allegra cringed as Dylan’s hand came away stained red with blood, after touching the back of his head. She’d obviously unintentionally inflicted the wound upon him, due to the force with which she’d slammed him against the wall. “Believe me, killing you was not my intention,” she replied, smiling ruefully. Delving into her handbag, she hunted for something for a few moments, before removing a clean white handkerchief, embroidered with cream roses. Darting behind Dylan, she dabbed at the wound as carefully as she could, not caring that the fine material she used would be ruined. When she was finished, she faced him again, her expression somber. She listened to his words with a calm appearance, but an erratically thudding heart. Why did you save me?

“Because you are one of the very few people I call friend,” she replied, steadily. “What kind of a person would that make me, if I left someone I respect, someone I’ve worked with, to rot in a cell? I could never have lived with myself. Unlike my brother, I have a conscience – and he considers it my greatest weakness.” With a small pause, she considered Dylan’s next words. It was true, that Dylan’s sudden disappearance could almost certainly be linked to her, and her brother would be highly suspicious. However, for some reason this did not frighten her. When it came to Lucius, all she felt was disgust. “Consider it done,” she said, finally. Her tone was quiet and thoughtful. “From this moment on, you’re a dead man.” Her tiny smile widened a little. “You won’t be the only ghost to operate within this city. I’ll do everything I can to protect you, you have my word. And I have many connections that may be of interest to you in this afterlife of yours… others who died, simply disappeared, successfully and without trouble.”

She remained silent for a few short moments, before acting on an unexpected instinct. Before she could properly contemplate what she was doing, she leaned forward and gave Dylan a hug. It was a loose embrace, not at all invasive – almost like the hold of a wisp of smoke - and quite fleeting, for after one short moment she pulled back gently and smiled. Allegra hardly ever hugged anyone; it was a sure sign of her steadfast friendship. “Now,” she said, “everything will go smoothly. It’ll be alright. I promise it.” She nodded towards the exit at the end of the corridor. “We should hurry along.”

~~~

Gardenia listened, feeling immensely smug, as Lucius addressed the wardens in his usual cold tone. She enjoyed observing the wardens’ reaction; she loved how frightened everyone was of Governor Nylander. However, she felt no such fear towards him; such was her obsession with Lucius, she was too much consumed by her reverential adoration to be tinged by terror. As he turned to go, she immediately followed him, matching his swift footsteps exactly. She allowed no smile to grace her features, though she longed to; she felt as if she was on the brink of bursting into tears of happiness – but Gardenia never cried.

As they exited the second floor, she remained in silent contemplation. The only sound was the clicking of her black heels. Her breathing felt far too short, although she gave the appearance of inhaling and exhaling with perfect ease. She appeared effortless in every way. Lucius could never have guessed any hint of the excitement coursing through her veins at this very moment. She did not so much as glance sideways at him, although she longed to. She wondered what his reaction would be if he ever discovered how she felt about him – if she was utterly honest, she supposed that he’d laugh cruelly or snub her completely. Lucius and the whole concept of love didn’t exactly go hand in hand. But she was determined to change this. He will love me, she swore to herself, I’ll make sure of it.

She allowed the silence to stretch on and on, gazing into the middle distance, seemingly without a care in the world. Her expression was empty, as were her icy blue eyes. Anyone who attempted to catch her gaze would have met beautiful nothingness, and no more. She was careful to display no hint of emotion, apart from when it suited her. The display of anger she’d deployed on the wardens had been carefully used to gain Lucius’s respect.

As they went through a door, Gardenia allowed herself a strategic move; one fleeting glance as she held open the door for Lucius. It was cleverly done. It was a sweeping, dark blaze of a look; not flirtatious, not confronting. It was simply… dark. The kind of look that would make a lesser person squirm with discomfort, and then take to their heels in fright. The glint in her eyes accentuated the cold beauty of her features, and when she turned her head again, her footsteps as swift as ever, she returned to what could only be described as polite disregard.

Trying to catch a governor was a dangerous game, but it was one she adored. Six years, she had waited for her chance, and here it was. No Adrianna. No anyone. Just… him. And her. Not a night passed her by when she didn’t swear to herself again and again she was perfect for him in every way. Relationships with different men came and went, for Gardenia would not forbid herself any indulgence, but her fixation with Lucius remained constant. This was not necessarily a good thing.

Finally, she spoke up, still without looking at him as they walked. “If there is anything else that needs looking to, please order my attendance as you wish,” she said. Her voice was as mild as it always was, when she wasn’t lashing out at lesser begins and wardens. She seemed perfectly happy to oblige him in whatever way possible, but her tone also hinted that she would be just as happy to leave him if that was what he wanted. It was growing considerably late. Gardenia did not mind one way or the other what he ordered; she simply desired for him to be pleased with her.

~~~

Garnet laughed at Cameron’s comment regarding nursing. His habit of making jokes was so familiar to her. She was so used to it, and she never once reproached him for it. Her smile remained on her features, despite the sleepy expression that accompanied it. She appeared peaceful, although her heart was thudding extremely hard. She was torn between the desire to just sleep, and dream calmly, and the overriding longing to tell Cameron everything that was going on in her head. The two conflicting wishes fought fiercely, and the second one won. He was more important to her than her lack of sleep. He would always come first with her, no matter what. Hearing his sigh, alerted by it, she watched him intently, looking for a sign as to what he felt… what was going through his mind, at this exact moment. Her breathing was slightly heaving as he sat up, crossing his legs, supporting her shoulder with a gentle hand, as he listened to her.

She was desperate to know his reaction to her reminder about the discussion they’d had earlier on, regarding the surface. She followed his every movement, every expression. When he lay back down, she caught something unfamiliar in his eyes; a kind of recklessness that she seldom saw in him. She had not thought it possible that her heart could beat any faster that it already had, but it most certainly was. At any moment, she suspected it might take flight and soar straight out of her body. His first words set her thoughts aflame with anticipation; he would give up his freedom, his very life, for her. For her, for her, for her. Her breathing was growing steadily faster as every moment passed by, but she could never have expected what came next. She felt his hand take hers, holding it tightly, and she replied by squeezing it back, holding onto him with all of the strength she could muster. She never wanted to let go.

“Garnet, I've loved you for years but I never could say. I don't want to hide it from you any longer. I love you.”

An astonished gasp escaped from her lips, and her eyes widened in shock, before immediately filling with tears, brimming to the surface and spilling down her cheeks. Her face seemed to have flushed with colour. She suddenly looked rosy, and a wide smile ran riot across her lovely, amazed features. Her lips moved as if trying to form words, but they escaped her. Instead, she burst into a mixture of laughs and sobs, as joy seized hold of her heart. Had he really said what she had just heard him say? She had heard him with her own ears. She wasn’t dreaming. This could only mean that the conversation she’d overheard between him and Adrianna had been real. Without wasting another moment more, she launched herself forward, flinging her arms about his neck and hugging him tightly to her. Her brow rested against his neck as she wept out of sheer happiness. Long moments passed as she simply held him, still too shocked to say a word. She had waited so long for this moment, but now that it was finally here, she found herself at a loss; all she could do was hold onto him.

Finally, she slowly pulled back to look at him. She ran her gaze over his features, reflecting his smile. She blinked several times, tears clinging to the tips of her eyelashes. She looked so beautiful, her face fresh with delight, her tiredness seemingly peeled away, replaced by a radiance that seemed utterly natural to her. “Cameron,” she whispered. Reaching forward, she touched his face. She took another deep breath. “Cameron… I… I don’t know what to say!” she shook her head in wonderment. “You have no idea how happy this makes me! I thought… I always thought… that you would only ever feel friendship towards me. That you’d never love me back. I was so afraid of risking our friendship, so I never spoke up. I was terrified of losing you.” She caressed his cheek, overcome with emotion. Swallowing, she continued. “I never believed you could feel the same way. But…” another deep breath, “you do! You do.” She rested her brow against his, closing her eyes. “I love you too, Cameron. So, so much. You’re everything to me, you’re the world.” She really wasn’t dreaming. This was real, and she could scarcely believe it. “I love you. I love you.” She repeated the words joyously, before opening her eyes to look into his green-brown gaze. His eyes were so beautiful.

She simply watched him for a moment, taking in what had just happened, everything that had been said. She felt as if any moment now she would burst with happiness. For so long, she’d remained silent about her love for him, and now that it was finally out in the open, the relief was astounding. And as for the fact that he loved her too… it swept her off her feet. She felt as if she was soaring. Leaning forward, her smile broadened even more, her face positively glowing. Slowly, she closed the gap between them, and as she did so, she wondered if she was about to pass out. Her lips meeting with Cameron’s, she kissed him tenderly, lovingly. Her kiss conveyed everything that she was unable to put into words, and she wound her arms about his neck, swearing to herself that she had never felt so happy in all her life. She had no idea of how long the embrace lasted; time had slipped away, becoming completely irrelevant. When she finally, gently pulled back, she smiled as if slightly embarrassed at the passion she’d displayed, but not regretting it. Sitting up, she looked at Cameron silently, with a contented, tranquil expression.

Reaching out, she touched his black hair. She shook her head again. “Words really escape me,” she said, softly. “But then, you know me. I’m much better at listening.”

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PostPosted: December 13th, 2010, 12:12 pm 
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[ Here's my post, finally.. :P Lilly's post might not be that good as I kind of rushed it, because I just wanted to post at last. ;) Really RL is killing me.. >.<

Cameron + Garnet = über cuteness :happy: ]


Dylan touched the back of his head lightly after Allegra stepped away. Although her handkerchief was ruined the bleeding had stopped. But Dylan started to suspect that the woman in front of him, glamorous and shamelessly rich, hardly seemed to care for luxuries. Unlike the other nobility, she wasn’t materialistic, but she actually was human.
“I’ll be alright.” For the first time in days, a true smile appeared on Dylan’s exhausted features. “You will make a perfect nurse.” Upon saying that he was suddenly reminded of all he left behind; colleagues and patients. Some of the former would probably be wondering by now what had happened to him and perhaps check on his home or his family, the latter could only guess to the cause of his disappearance. Dylan only hoped that they would make it without him.

The smile remained on the doctor’s face as the blonde responded to his question. Her words seemed to have the same effect on him as a roaring fire or a good glass of wine; it warmed his body and his cold limbs, and might even effect those wounds, that could not be seen.

“It would have made you a person, of whom there are very many in this time. Your brother’s reign has not remained ineffective. Honesty and honour seemed to have perished like nature did in times of winter in the Days of Old. But that can all be overcome; his trick of turning love to pain will not last. Lucius does not understand that, and that is his weakness.”

His grey eyes searched for hers. Her gaze was unafraid, thoughtful, but confident. Dylan wondered whether he’d ever met any woman as strong as she was, or as dangerous. But danger did not scare Dylan away, although he in the past did everything to avoid it, he’d changed. He’d now follow his conscious, and do whatever was good, despite all the consequences.

He considered Allegra’s words and sighed. “It should be this way. It’s the only option.” He would probably not see his loved ones again, not soon anyway. “I will gladly meet anyone that you think worthwhile seeing,” he added earnestly. “It’s only the least I can do.”

There was a short silence before Allegra suddenly embraced him. Het touch was soft and light, modest and not obtrusive. Dylan laid his hands on her back, returning the gesture. He felt surprisingly at ease in her presence and the thought that at least one friend was in the knowledge that he was still alive, was surely comforting.

He nodded upon hearing her words. She was right, they should not linger too long, not now they were so close. Dylan followed Allegra soundlessly, towards the end of the hallway, towards his freedom.

----------

A watery smile appeared on Lilly’s face and her eyes shone with gratitude, she couldn’t express. It was in her nature to be modest, but Adrianna spoke with so much conviction, that she just had to believe her. A spark of hope was kindled within her that fate finally smiled upon her. Hardly did she know, that it was not fate, but by Adrianna’s hand, that she’d met her new friends..

“I’m sorry,” she repeated again, wiping the tears from her freckled cheeks. “It’s the hormones. They just turn me all fuzzy inside.” She rolled her eyes, and grinned. “I cry and I worry like I’m in some emotional rollercoaster.” Her smile widened and she took Adrianna’s hand more firmly. “Of course you may walk with me. I think it’s this way..”

As they walked down the dark streets, Lilly felt safer than she did before, safer than she ever did when she outside. Adrianna seemed to emit some sort of strength that made her feel protected or at least armed against danger. Not at all did the redhead suspect what for political power Adrianna in fact had, so she chattered cheerfully as they went along.

“I’m really fond of walking..” she said to the brunette to excuse the obvious remarkable fact that she still walked quite often in her state. “In fact, when I met your brother I was on my way to the hospital. My doctor, Dylan Whittaker, he didn’t show up for his regular visit this evening, so I was on my way to find him there..” Lilly threw a concerned glance at Adrianna. “You don’t think it has anything to do with me, do you? You know, him not showing up?” Then she shook her head and to convince herself she said out loud: “No, he probably didn’t have the time to come..”

_________________


O children, lift up your voice, lift up your voice,
Children, rejoice, rejoice..

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PostPosted: December 15th, 2010, 4:39 pm 
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[I can't honestly say that I'm a completely hopeless romantic - I much prefer my tragic couples :P - but Cameron and Garnet make me feel all warm and fuzzy. :D
:hug: Hope you feel better soon, Will! :)]

Warmth like none she'd ever felt, even in the humid confines of the house she'd grown up in, swelled within Adrianna and she felt almost dizzy with it. For one unused to the feeling, it made her nauseous and anxious and exhilarated all at the same time. Such a whirl of conflicting emotions was enough to set her on edge, but after the night she'd had... she felt almost ready to face anything, unaware that the reckless boldness that coursed through her blood was at that particular instance exactly the same as the adrenaline that fuelled her brother's impassioned confession, not too far away. So similar, so different. Adrianna didn't think she could ever imagine Cameron in such a predicament as hers; he would, without a doubt, choose the correct path, no matter that he had to face. Motivated by a selfish need for protection and control, Adrianna sought to remain in a world where she could protect those she cared about from harm and keep herself safe in the process. Here, in this day an age, such a task was either a precarious one or an impossible one - no-one had tried it, so no-one knew the answer. The thought made her fight the urge to run away and not stop, but years of obedience made her the perfect soldier: she was independent and resourceful enough to find her own way, but give her an order and she'd obey it to the letter.

That's why it'd been so hard for her to find a way out of the situation with the doctor. He hadn't told her what to do, he hadn't even hinted at what morality dictated she should do; he hadn't pointed out that she was conveniently ignoring all conscience. Dylan had given her something that, she felt, she'd never been given before.
A choice. Save a life or take it.

Backed into a corner, Adrianna had reacted instinctively, thinking mostly of self preservation. It was what she'd been trained to do, what she was good at. In contrast, even in her current “disgraced” state, Lilly was so much more pure that she was. If a soul would be the sky, Adrianna's might've been as poisoned as the atmosphere Above. The mere thought twisted a small part of her heart, one she had to keep reminding herself that she was most definitely not listening to.

“I'm sorry,” Lilly repeated, making an attempt to clear her face of moisture. “It's the hormones. They just turn me all fuzzy inside.”

A small laugh escaped Adrianna and, as she usually did in such rare moments of short-lived happiness, she performed the perfect imitation of Cameron when he laughed. “I don't think I'd have it any other way. It's so much better than being surrounded by balding old men who've convinced themselves that the emotions they purged themselves of were worthless.”

Her smile faded ever so slightly, but not entirely. Determined not to show her bare-faced despair to someone so in need of comfort, Adrianna let her face relax as much as she dared and tried to look as if the night were as peaceful as she wished it could have been.

The merrily bubble of conversation followed as they walked, Adrianna stepping carefully, slowly, making sure that she didn't walk too fast - besides, she had to stay a strategic step behind Lilly: she has absolutely no idea where Lilly lived. How else was she supposed to find out? Assumptions would get her nowhere.

“I'm really fond of walking... In fact, when I met your brother I was on my way to the hospital.” There was nothing remarkable or surprising in this statement, other than the fact that she still enjoyed walks, though this would place her firmly in the public eye where she certainly wasn't free from the disapproving gaze of any stranger who happened to pass by. It was in the next sentence that felt like a knife to the chest.

“My doctor, Dylan Whittaker, he didn't show up for his regular visit this evening, so I was on my way to find him there...”

Trying to recover from the wall of ice that had abruptly blocked all her thought processes, Adrianna stuttered as she replied, acutely aware that she sounded not unlike a young schoolgirl asked to explain why exactly she was daydreaming instead of applying herself properly.

“I- I'm sure it wasn't,” she said quietly. “Doctors in this day and age... they're more resilient and accepting than most others. I'm sure his shift was just held up a little longer than he expected.” She managed a tiny, meagre smile. “Try not to worry too much. I'm sure he's a very busy man.”

At least, now he is, she thought. Preparing for an escape attempt that could, quite possibly, turn out to be fatal for the pair of them.

<center>- - -</center>

Something like victory seemed to be infecting the Governor's mind; it was corrupting his thoughts and, as the seconds passed, he felt himself increasingly less willing to concentrate on the issues at hand. At the minute he had the doctor downstairs, apprehended and awaiting sentence, his sister buzzing around causing trouble - nothing unusual, of course - and Adrianna flitting from place to place, unattended. Everything seemed insignificant as he realised that, once again, he had managed to triumph over his enemy without so much as a hitch. In fact, he thought that the most pressing issue he had currently was that of the Wardens' incompetence, something that would have to be set right immediately; the Guild head, Darrington, would have to be notified. Sure enough, the man was as insufferable as the next, but he had a firm sense of what would get him far in this world and what wouldn't. As such, he'd placed his loyalty and trust firmly in Lucius's hands, leaving him with complete control over the Wardens, free to manipulate that duties, jurisdiction and powers as he saw fit. At the moment he was in two minds; if her reigned in on the Wardens' power, they might not be able to hold back the general public, which would never do... on the other hand, if he increased their power, they'd get even more arrogant and complacent than they were already and begin to get ideas. Even in his head he spat the word as if it were poison on his tongue. They were the scourge of this government, and a thing that, if a man had any sense, he'd banish in his subjects without delay. A man who got ideas into his head was a liability.

As effortless as a black shadow beside him, Gardenia floated with only the occasional rasp of her dark heels on the cold stone floors breaking her silence. Her personality shone through in her presence, quiet though it was: she preferred to set an atmosphere that put fear and apprehension into the hearts of those around her, much like him. The power of Influence was a strong one and, like him, she recognised that by thinking you had power over someone and making them believe that too was exactly the same as actually having the power to control them. A man who believed that he had no choice was a man that had all but surrendered his will to a higher power. In this case, Nylander's seemingly limitless power. When you've got the power to keep the bad guys comin' and the good guys runnin', his father had told him when he'd hit eighteen, displaying accidental wisdom through a thick screen of alcohol, you've got 'em scared. Can't do no better'n that, son.

As valuable as this piece of advice had turned out to be, Lucius still thought very little of his father. He'd been absent most of his childhood, and he'd never been there long enough to warrant being missed, so that part of his life had remained a blank space. The man had been proud, sanctimonious and, oddly enough, most coherent and amiable when intoxicated. The man had been wealthy and high-standing enough to afford to educate both Allegra and Lucius superbly, and certainly wealthy enough to be able to introduce the pair of them to many useful faces. If asked about him, in ‘trusted’ company, he would've said that his father had simply served as a stepping stone on his own path to greatness. His life meant little or nothing to him. He felt no affection for the man who professed to have raised him, not that he could truthfully have admitted to any such act. Like father, like son, it seemed.

As they neared one of the grand doors that were there simply to break up the corridor and give one an air of importance as one entered, Gardenia stepped forward and held it open for him, sweeping her eyes once over his face with a gaze void of... everything. She met his eyes briefly, but held the contact for no longer than was correct and proper. A clever move, because for a single moment, his thought processes slowed to a fraction of their average speed and he took a moment to simply see her for what she was.

Gardenia, like most of his employees, fit the usual profile: quiet, reserved unless otherwise necessary, of a dark and secretive disposition and obedient to a fault. An enjoyment of cruelty was what separated the Wardens from the people he identified and enlisted to serve him: their animalistic fanaticism for violence was sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse - it depended entirely upon the situation. That was the reason the Guild Head had been appointed: the Wardens, quite aside from needed an official leader (other than him - why would you think he wished to sort out their menial problems and disputes?) and, besides, it kept the man out of trouble. Darrington was more than clever enough for the job, but he wasn't one of Lucius's men. That made him perpetually suspicious.

In a second the moment was over, though, and his appreciation for Gardenia's flexible character vanished as quickly as it had materialised. There was certainly no reason to dwell upon her suitability for her job when she could spend that time actually doing it. Speaking of which, at this hour, she ought to be either doing critical work - he had a number of loose ends he wished to tie up by the end of the week, the first being the matter of the doctor downstairs - or getting home in time to actually catch a few hours of sleep before the early morning became late morning. Making a mental note to dismiss her as soon as he'd tested her patience, a routine assessment he made of both her and Adrianna by remaining silent until they requested orders, he turned a sharp corner without warning, neglecting to check whether Gardenia had managed to keep in step with him - she doubtless had, for he knew she wouldn't leave his side until she was told to or forced to. The latter, however, would take a considerable amount of effort.

Eventually, she spoke. The silence had been long, her patience was decent; she learned so much quicker than Adrianna. He'd have to rectify that.

“If there is anything else that needs looking to, please order my attendance as you wish,” she told him, toneless and simple. She had a natural instinct for the job she did: soft tones when taking orders, harsh when giving them; patience in the face of her commander, an imposing and expectant presence in front of those she sought the obedience of. Maybe, just one day, he might promote her to something more than his little run-around.

before he'd had a chance to construct a suitably bland dismissal, a boy of perhaps eighteen darted, nimbly but gracelessly, around one of the corners ahead, and headed, not the least bit hesitantly, towards the pair of them. Lucius didn't give him a second glance on account of not even affording him a first; the boy was of no consequence, no interest to him. As Lucius passed, he halted and bowed his head, just enough to warrant the word but little enough that he could still watch the Governor's face. Usually such impudence would have caused the youth much discomfort, but at that instance Nylander couldn't have spare him a thought had it been demanded of him. The forefront of his mind was occupied with thoughts of the coming political actions he planned to take, the plan of action for the morning and arranging the... send off for Dr. Whittaker. He didn't pay attention until the boy called after him, in a drawl that suggested he had more self-importance than was due to someone of his station. Upon his face, his expression sat lazily, without any regard for what the world thought. Interesting.

“A message for you,” the boy called, “sir,” he added as an afterthought. “Told me it was urgent, asked me to run out immediately. Couldn't wait 'til morning, he said.”

“Really?” he asked, outwardly cool and unmoved with an icy stare, inwardly impressed. Along with all other reminders he'd left himself, he'd be sure to catch up with and keep an eye on this one. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence and enough sense not to try and think for themselves was useful to him. Even this adolescent might prove his worth one day - or die trying.

“You'd better deliver it, then, otherwise you might find yourself without wages. I don't suspect they pay you if you fail to fulfil your duty.”

“Yes. Certainly not. Sir.” he cleared his throat quietly, more for the sake of public etiquette than to make himself seem important. “Here you go, sir.”

With that, he handed over a simple, folded and sealed scrap of paper and turned, exiting with the same haste he'd arrived with.

Evidently the paper had been acquired in a hurry with little thought as to where it came from or how it looked. Presentation was a useful tool but, it seemed, in this instance it had been deemed unnecessary. breaking the seal carefully and unfolding it, Lucius read the words once then ceased the message once, twice and holding it between his finger and thumb, held out for Gardenia to take. He didn't need it, and he didn't much care what she did with it either, just so long as she made sure she burned it when she was finished.

“You're dismissed. I have business to attend to now, and I shan't need you until morning. Do what you will with that,” he indicated the paper, then left her in the shadow of his might, blunt carelessness and a swirl of quiet.

<center>C Nylander is dead. One less superfluous character gone. Tell me Governor, how does it feel to be so powerless you can't even protect that you don't care about?</center>

Fury permeated every muscle in the Governor's body, as if in answer to the question. He felt anger, anger and intense, wholly consuming hatred. Whoever thought they had the right to interfere would pay with their life.

... but what if they were already supposed to be dead?

<center>- - -</center>

The words passed his lips and he could almost feel the air being disturbed as he uttered them. There was a few seconds' delay before Garnet reacted; he suspected he'd shocked her into silence. For so reserved a character, he'd held back an awful lot of emotion and kept it safely locked behind strong floodgates that had, perhaps inevitably, buckled under the sheer weight of love and recklessness.

Garnet's gasp shattered all concentration he might've had at that moment and her bright eyes widened more then he would've thought possible. Within seconds tears filled her eyes to the point of overflowing and them tumbled down her cheeks haphazardly, creating long, glistening trails of moisture where they'd passed. All the colour that had disappeared from her face when she'd lost consciousness returned with a vengeance and, all at once, she seemed much more lovely than he could ever have imagined. During his long months away, he'd almost forgotten what she'd looked like; he'd had every face he'd ever known replaced by impenetrable, unfriendly blackness. How could such a face have ever left his mind?

Emotions seemed to take turns in overwhelming her: she was unable to speak, but whichever the words she wanted to say, they were surely important, or she shouldn't want to say them so desperately. The tears that fell were eclipsed by the smile that overtook her face and made her appear, to him, to be perfectly breathtakingly beautiful. Each sob was counteracted and interspersed by little bursts of laughter, and it was almost as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing. After such an ambiguous reception, Cameron felt unsure whether to laughing with her or prepare himself for heartbreak. This, he confirmed, was exactly why he hadn't confessed beforehand: he'd had no idea as to how this news would be taken, let alone responded to. Not knowing made him nervous, albeit not as much as it did Adrianna; still, the idea of Garnet not taking him seriously hurt so much it could've been a physical wound. It took a few seconds for him to realise that she'd flung her arms around his neck and was clinging to him as if she wouldn't let go if it cost her her life. No words passed between them but, slowly, realisation dawned and he embraced her tightly, feeling lighter than he'd ever felt before. Weightless.

When she pulled back so she could look him in the eye, she smiled, mimicking him and his joy. He couldn't remember a time when he'd felt so elated - of course, he'd had very little chance to be find an occasion worth that kind of emotion. The most he'd had to look forward to in life, before now, was a promotion and the promise of a night of gentle, soothing conversation. Now he had Garnet and, to coin a phrase, she was all he needed.

“Cameron,” the name was said so softly, so quietly that it took effort to hear it; it barely had the energy to pass her lips. She leant forwards and a hand caressed his face, gently, disbelievingly. “Cameron... I... I don't know what to say!” Garnet shook her pretty head, unconscious of the effect it had on him.

“You have no idea how happy this makes me! I thought... I always thought...”

A breathe escaped him as he saw, for the first time, how foolish he'd been. Every action of hers he'd just thought to be a dismissing act of someone trying hard to ignore his feelings was, in fact, her trying to contain exactly the same feelings that he'd thought were so obvious. For so long, the two of them had both concealed themselves behind their friendship, hoping above all else that the other didn't find out, just in case it spoiled everything they'd taken careful years to gradually build: an unyielding trust and precious friendship. It was more than either of them had ever dared to jeopardise, until that moment when, overtaken by a deep sense of adventure Cameron had let loose the words before he'd realised the he was airing one of his greatest secrets.

Breathing, garnet continued her fractured sentence, adding more to his feeling of intense happiness with every word she spoke.

“I never believed you could feel the same way. But... you do! You do.”

She rested her brow against his, closed her eyes and whispered the words he hadn't even dared to dream of hearing. She repeated the words, happy simply to be able to say them without fear of harming him or herself in the process. If he'd been able to coordinate his tongue and brain, he'd have echoed her words; as it was, he remained silent, revelling in the her presence and the very idea of what had taken place that night. Such a joyous return from such a despondent, desolate place... only that morning he'd gazed into the abyss that awaited beyond the city's borders with the same apprehension and fear that lingered with all the workers who joined him there, thinking that he'd be free of the ever-present shadow that stared over his shoulder - even if only for a few days. He never thought he could've ended up here, not in his dizziest daydreams. How could he? Whenever he'd thought about his future, all he'd seen was a question mark. It wasn't even certain that he'd make it that far. It was simply a case of taking everything day by day.

It was impossible not to become infected by the atmosphere that hung in the air, a mixture of warmth mingled with pure joy. The space between them disappeared in seconds as she leant in and kissed him softly, attempting to say everything that was on her mind without words. Gently and trying above all not to be invasive or presumptuous in any way, Cameron returned her affection and her kiss, savouring every single second that passed while she was so close. As long as that moment lasted as long as possible, as long as, when they parted, Garnet didn't simply fade into the distance, he would remain as blissful as he was.

As she pulled away and Cameron's numbness faded from his limbs and his head cleared enough to let him open his eyes and survey her face with a slightly smile lingering upon his features; she was ever so slightly embarrassed, but she didn't seem at all unhappy or regretful, quite the opposite. A soft laugh echoed throughout the quiet room, emanating from Cameron, as he laughed at the impossibility of the situation.

“Look at the pair of us. Blinded for so long...” he laughed again, breaking eye contact so he had a moment to berate himself for being so foolish and adamant that his dreams couldn't be a reality.

A hand rested against is face as she played with his hair, looking more peaceful than he'd seen her since before her parents had died. Just observing that detail about her made his heart soar.

“Words really escape me. But then, you know me. I'm much better at listening.”

Again, he laughed lightly. “All that time you spend with those books... I suppose it'd take the love of language out of anyone.” he smiled at her, a full, bright smile he used to use when they were annoying, adventurous teenagers. “Still, it's alright. I understand you anyway.”

Lightly, his lips grazed her forehead and he reached for her hand to reassure her that she didn't need words. “Words don't mean much. Ideas, thoughts, emotion...” he trailed off. “They're much more valuable.”

Every word rang true, especially the last, and he didn't have to say why: it was one of the few things that they could be sure their adversary did not have.

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PostPosted: December 18th, 2010, 7:07 pm 
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Gardenia watched silently as an adolescent rushed around a corner, speaking overly-confident words about an urgent message, calling after the Governor as if he had a right to even be noticed. When Lucius granted him that privilege, Gardenia kept a careful eye on the boy, briefly considering the idea of striking the messenger for insolence. But the boy handed Lucius the piece of paper, and then darted away. Gardenia’s frosty gaze swiveled back towards Lucius as he opened the paper and read it. She waited, wondering what the message was. Only a few moments later, she was granted the chance she so coveted; Lucius held it out towards her as if it was a rag. Taking it from him with one swift, easy movement, she bowed her head as she was given her orders. He was soon gone, leaving her alone in silent contemplation.

A smile crept up on her dark features, her cheeks flushing with colour, the pink tinges in her skin strange to behold in such a normally pale face. With a small snatch of breath, she opened the message and read it for herself. One eyebrow raised, and her smile promptly vanished. Lucius’s father is dead. The hand she held the paper in started to shake with excitement, despite her own attempts to steady herself. For some reason, this seemed important. Why did it? She wasn’t sure herself, but she carefully folded the paper, tucking it into her black handbag.

Swiftly, she walked in the opposite direction of the one Lucius had taken. Her footsteps were quick, even and measured, her high heels as usual tapping loudly. She didn’t mind that the Governor had dismissed her so bluntly. That was just his manner. It was what she liked about him. He was so… so… she couldn’t find the words to describe it. Her shoulders heaved as she took another breath. The tide was turning. Someone was working against Lucius, and she needed to find out who. She needed to find a way to make Lucius see her for who she really was. And then, who knew what might happen? When she closed her eyes, she could vividly see herself at his side, his match in power. His right hand in all matters. She could also see Adrianna clapped behind bars for high treason. This was the fate she intended for Lucius’s other assistant. Gardenia would have no one, no one, sharing Lucius’s confidence but her.

She soon exited the Tower. She was looking forward to getting home. Not that she preferred home life to work – quite the opposite, in fact. But she wanted to reward herself. She’d kept a glass of wine in the fridge that she’d been previously going to share with her boyfriend, until his untimely betrayal. To Gardenia, he was the one in the wrong. He had tried to make her seem a fool. Why couldn’t he simply have been grateful to be in her life? So what if she’d neglected their relationship at times? In her own, strange way Gardenia had cared for him, even though he’d only been one of her whims. Still, she had the wine, and she intended to drink it. She wanted to congratulate herself for a day’s work well done.

Still, she needed someone else now. It was going to take a long time to make Lucius love her, and so she wanted to have someone to keep her company in the meantime. Gardenia didn’t like loneliness. She was sure that some man somewhere would be only too grateful to be her partner, for a month or so, maybe more. But he couldn’t be just anyone. Gardenia always selected her prey carefully. He needed to be handsome. Clever. Another thing she hated was stupidity.

As she walked along the empty street, looking straight ahead of her, the words in the letter repeated themselves to her. She had to admit, despite herself, she admired whoever had written it. It took courage, addressing the Governor in such… dismissive tones. She found herself intrigued by the nameless person. They obviously hated Lucius as much as she loved him. Thinking about those two extremes made her smile. It was a beautiful smile, despite the dark thoughts going on in her head. Gardenia hated ugliness, too – not that she would ever be in danger of appearing unattractive.

She walked along several streets, before she turned a corner. Her house was now two streets away. She’d moved out of her parents’ home a few years ago, having craved independence. Having one’s own residence was so much more glamorous, anyway. And what a beautiful residence it was too – Gardenia’s house was a masterpiece. As for the interior, it was kept obsessively in tune with modern interior design standards. Thinking about her lovely home, Gardenia toyed with the idea of stretching out on her black couch, listening to her favourite piano music with a glass of wine in her hand while re-reading the letter. Already, she knew that she was going to have a good evening.

But when she turned yet another corner, her thoughts were suddenly scattered as a hand clamped over her mouth, and a strong arm dragged her away from the street, into a darkened alley. It happened so quickly that for a moment, she did not even react, gripped by pure fear. It was a man’s voice that whispered in her ear, “keep quiet, or I will cut your heart out.”

Upon hearing those words, Gardenia was suddenly overcome by a rush of fury so powerful it made her movements even stronger than usual. Wasting no more time, she stamped one high heel on the man’s foot, wriggling free, tearing away from his tight grasp. She could not see him properly in this dim light – but she could make out his dark outline. One hand tightening, she launched her fist into his chin, before she shoved him hard in the stomach, grabbing his arms and pinning them behind him, proceeding to head-butt his chest. Her breathing heavy, she kept her hold on him. Her drive to restrain him forced her to keep herself pressed against him, in case he got any ideas. Leaning forward, she hissed menacingly in his ear, speaking words that weren’t necessarily true, but sounded convincing.

“I wouldn’t try, if I were you. I haven’t got a heart to cut out.”

~~~

As Allegra walked ahead down the corridor, she ran over what Dylan had said to her again and again. Never before had she heard anyone describing her brother with the same distaste she felt. It felt wonderful not to feel so alone. Here, at her side, was someone who hated Lucius as much as she did, who wanted above all to see him fall. She could not hold back the smile that took a hold of her lips then. This was something else new for her; smiling with sincerity. She had become so accustomed to hiding her true self, concealing herself behind her glittering mask. With Dylan, she didn’t feel that she had to pretend. Why should she? They were friends, a fact that she had confirmed by embracing him. Having sealed their loyalty with such a gesture, Allegra felt that they, along with the rest of their kind, could fight whatever was thrown at them.

Within a few moments, they faced the doors that would lead them out of the Tower. Dylan now faced his freedom, and it was important that they decided what was to be done. Resting one hand lightly against the doors, Allegra turned towards him, her expression serious. Her grey eyes were very steady, looking at the doctor straight in the eye. She did not feel vulnerable, allowing someone to meet her straight, honest gaze, the façade she usually wore melted away to reveal her humanity. Instead, she felt strong. Allegra could not remember the last time she’d felt so powerful, so free to do exactly as she wished.

“Before we go,” she said, quietly, “we need to decide where you are to go. You’re dead now, Dylan. By no means can you be found wandering the streets. And so…” she paused, wondering how he would react, “…and so, you’re going to come and stay with me. No arguments, please. My home is the safest place you could be. Lucius never comes to visit if he can help it – I go to see him.” She smiled slightly. “Besides, it will put my mind at rest to know where you are. Do we have an agreement?” She held out her hand, as if offering a handshake to secure the deal, as indeed she was. Allegra was very much a business woman.

Her words had not sounded at all overbearing. They were pitched kindly and softly. Allegra needed Dylan to agree. She could not bear the thought of him going out there alone, and ultimately being found, only to be dragged back to the Tower. She could not risk taking a chance. Allegra looked out for her friends; that was something that all who were trusted with her friendship agreed upon. A more loyal person would be difficult to find. Briefly, Allegra glanced at her watch, before her gaze went back to Dylan. Her other hand rested on the door handle, ready to open one of the doors.

~~~

Garnet smiled, vibrant, as Cameron laughed softly. She loved the sound of his laugh; it was so sunny, so warm. It was like music, a song that she could never hear enough times or get sick of. Her smile was wide and still tinged with joyous astonishment. She could still scarcely believe this sudden, beautiful change. She now wished that she had told Cameron of her love years ago. If only she’d been able to see that all along, he had loved her too. But they had both been somehow blinded. Just as this thought went through her mind, Cameron echoed it in words, and she laughed with him. “Sunlight has a tendency to blind people,” she said, tenderly. “I may not have ever seen the sun… and I don’t know when I will… but that’s what you are to me, Cameron. You’re the sun. You’re the sky. I’ll say it again!” she leaned forward, her hair cascading down her shoulders, seeming to glimmer slightly in the lamplight, “…you’re everything to me.”

As he sat up and kissed her forehead, she closed her eyes and listened to him speak. He understood her. It felt so wonderful, so absolutely right. He knew her, in every possible way. He understood all the things about her that some people might have considered odd. These were all things he loved about her. It still felt so strange, knowing that he was as much in love with her as she was with him. Garnet knew, without a doubt, that these moments were meant to be.

She lifted her arms and wrapped them around his neck, opening her eyes to look up at him. “Thank you, Cameron,” she whispered. “Thank you.” She did not need to be specific about what her gratitude was for. She was thanking him for everything. She was so glad to have him in her life. Ever since losing her parents, she’d felt so alone in the world, apart from when she was with him. He made life feel as if it was worth living. So many times, when she’d felt cast down and depressed, he’d lifted her spirits, and he’d done it so easily that it seemed effortless. She wanted him to know that he was the most important person in her life, that she would never let him go.

“I love you,” she repeated, her tone scarcely above a whisper. She ran her gaze over his face, before resting her eyes on his. “I want to put it into words, Cameron. So that you know. I want you to know everything. But…” she broke off with a smile, “…but you know everything about me anyway. That’s why we finish each other’s sentences.” She gave a slight laugh. They’d been doing this since they were teenagers. This was something that had always made Adrianna laugh. Thinking of Adrianna, Garnet’s mind was suddenly taken back to the conversation she’d heard in the hallway. She didn’t want to keep this from Cameron, and so she leaned in closer. “I heard you and Adrianna. In the corridor outside this room. I didn’t think… I didn’t think that it was real.” With a small breath, she steadied herself, inhaling Cameron’s presence like a scent. A few moments passed in silence, before she spoke up again, almost shyly.

“One more thing,” she murmured, with a smile, “I don’t want us to hold back showing how much we love one another.” She hoped she didn’t sound presumptuous, but she persisted. “And I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to kiss you again.” Her words were put so carefully that her care was almost comical. “But just remember, I’m not made of china. I won’t break.” With a small laugh, she almost hesitantly leaned forward. As she gently cupped Cameron’s face, her kiss was filled with affection. When she very gently pulled back, her cheeks were slightly flushed with embarrassment as she spoke again. “Because I want you to know. I want you to know that I really do, really do love you.” It was almost as if she was finishing a sentence. Clasping her hands together, she blinked several times before swinging her arms, almost as if at a loss. Her happiness, combined with her bashfulness, was endearing to behold.

“About what I heard,” she said, eventually, “about Adrianna. You two hardly ever argue.” She reached out to take his hand, not wanting to spoil their moment with a difficult conversation, but wanting to bring it up all the same. “Are you sure everything will be alright between you?” She looked at him steadily. “You can tell me anything. Even if it’s not easy. Will you and Adrianna still be alright?”

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PostPosted: December 19th, 2010, 9:03 am 
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[Um, posting this 'cause it's long as it is and I figured that once I'd added in Cameron's and Adrianna's bits, it'd be unbearably so. Forgive me, I got a bit carried away. :blink:
Also, Goldy, I god-modded Gardenia a little. I hope you don't mind, but I needed it so that she could see his face. :D]

In dark streets, black predators wait. You could count yourself as one of them, if you liked, but it wouldn't matter. It never mattered. If someone wanted you dead, in those cold streets, you were as good as dead - because nearly no-one in this city, aside from the unspoken 'enemy' knew how to defend against an attack. When oppressed by an enemy so powerful, all defences were abandoned. Pity, because just a little more security might've saved so many who fell prey to the shadows that stalked the night.

There are many helpful tips for anyone avoiding being murdered in such a city:
Firstly, don't surprise anyone. Shock the wrong person and it's more than likely that you'll have a knife through your windpipe before you can say “hi”.
Secondly, whatever you do, don't attack. Submission might seem like a easy tip to get you killed, but convincing someone like that that you're no threat is a good thing - especially if you've not seen their face and so can't recognise them. Having to watch your mouth and your back is a small price to pay for life.
Thirdly, don't try to outwit Alexander. These days, he is certainly in no mood to spare lives that inconvenience him - especially if they bear the mark of the man who tried to kill him.

Skulking in the shadows for nearly a year makes you acquire a few talents. You have no choice in the matter; once you adopt the life of a shadow, you must either learn to go unnoticed, learn to blend in and move without being detected or you're certain to be discovered and handed in and treated with less mercy than you were given the first time.
Hey, no-one had said that this world wasn't dangerous. It certainly is and, if you don't adhere to its strict rules, it'll make life extremely difficult for you.

Being seen was the worst. People in such strict conditions remember seeing strange, moving shadows where they're not supposed to be. Witnesses were the bane of a ghost's life, simply because people like him couldn't afford to be seen, heard or remembered. It left a stain on the soul to have to call innocents 'collateral damage' so that he might survive to pass on the word of a world so spectacular that the people down here wouldn't believe him had he shown them overwhelming proof. The thing that irritated him, that grated away at his mind constantly was that he was the only one who had seen it. There were others that knew, of course - a misery such as his loves company, and contacts were a useful resource - but none had seen. To know, you had to believe; to believe, you had to see. For that reason alone, he had to make it to tomorrow. He was well aware that for some, those he might call his friends of questionable lifestyles, he was the only reason that they continued to soldier on in their war against the government's corruption and lies.

That is why, when the shadowy, light-footed figure of Alexander rounded a corner and saw, in the distance, another figure stalking towards him with a purpose, of all things, he backed off into the darkness and waited until the figure had passed him by. The person's face, he couldn't see; they were of average height, and average build but everything about them screamed indoctrinated servant. As such, a loathing Alexander was indeed used to rose, uncontrollably, until he was seeing red and being propelled forward by a distaste he hadn't the faintest idea how to tame - not that he wanted to, at all. His unpredictability gave him an edge, helped him survive. Without it he would've been dead months ago. In his eyes, one had no business questioning that which enabled you to fight that which helped you counter unspeakable evil.

Besides, whoever that person was would see him. It didn't matter who or what they were, they were in his way and, if that walk was anything to go by, they certainly didn't belong to the working class society. It wasn't as if the houses surrounding the two of them were cheap or in any state of disrepair, either: this was where the loyal servants lived.

Keeping with his resolution, he stalked forward, various knives secreted about his person; he'd already spoken to a young woman tonight, one he'd been watching for some time. The traitor had seemed out of her mind and as such, hadn't seen him leave, or turn to watch her as she meandered home, barely able to walk in a straight line. He'd keep an eye on her in future, but for now he'd leave it; her house was not too far away and she had no pressing tasks to complete tonight, to his knowledge, and so he'd leave watching her to one of the other ghosts that patrolled these streets - and he did not mean the Wardens that paced up and down, calling themselves 'security'. That was laughable.

A hand wrapped itself around Gardenia's face, halting any coherent speech and muffling any noise she may decide to make; all he noticed was that against his rough skin, his victim's was soft, and that he was a fair bit taller, so he had an advantage already - other than being armed.

Once he was sure his grip was tight, uttered very few words: a most succinct threat. Why waste time being subtle?

“Keep quiet, or I swear I'll cut your heart out.”

Those words seemed to inspire a palpable fury in his companion, who immediately began to struggle and fight. Surprised, he let go automatically, aware that he couldn't keep this one under his control if he clung on. Gardenia punched, kicked and fought like an animal, enraged and without discipline, but she had the determination of a soldier. Her vague outline wasn't enough for him to realise she was decidedly female; had he realised, he might've... maybe not.

Every punch she dealt, he took. In his life before, he'd never had much chance to participate in anything that would hone his combat skills; after meeting a few people, perhaps most notably an ex-Warden, he'd finally had the opportunity to arm himself in a way that gave him an advantage in most fights - even if that advantage just made it possible for him to escape without being pursued. Every time she swung at hi with arm or leg, he moved so that she was assured that she made contact but so that the blow was lessened; a punch to the abdomen that might've winded him impacted with a fraction of the force she intended; when he stepped backwards, avoiding her once more, she seemed to see the opportunity to pin him against the wall and give a threat of her own.

“I wouldn't try, if I were you. I haven't got a heart to cut out.”

A check list of facts ran through his mind.
Voice: distinctly female. Cultured. Self-assured, arrogant. High-born, for sure.
Surroundings: Occupied buildings. Can't afford a lot of noise. Wide streets, plenty of shadows.
Chance of escape? Good. Loose grip; still armed; plenty of hiding places.

This took place in the space of seconds; after he'd mentally mapped out his options, a low chuckle issued from his lips.

“Oh, I'm sure. I'd dearly love to try, though.”

All her weight was pressed against him, trying to hold him in place so he couldn't fight her. She'd overlooked his possibilities, though, he didn't want to fight, he wanted her quickly disabled. Because of the way she'd set her stance against him, she could be easily unbalanced, he'd be willing to bet. To test his theory, he hooked his right ankle around her left calf and pulled, shifting her weight very suddenly from two legs to one. Gravity would then pull her to the ground, and he braced himself, for because she'd held fiercely onto the arm that had grabbed her, he'd either have to hold her upright or fall with her. Opting for a strategic fall, he hit the floor then bounced away from her, unhooking a short, sharp knife as he righted himself.

“Nice try.” The glint of the night was evident, in his hand; it was a splash of brightness on the silhouette of a once black figure. Too late, he realised the mottled grey hood that had obscured his features had fallen back, revealing his face, expression hard, eyes dark, to his opponent. She'd seen him. He was in danger.

The knife flew up in the air, flashing all the way, then the handle was caught again by Alexander's outstretched hand. It was a throwing knife, perfectly crafted for balance and speed. He didn't need to be close to use it, which was endlessly useful. the was he was handling it was a subtle hint at the danger she was in; hinting that if she didn't decide to become really cooperative really soon, she might find herself being a lot more dead than she was before.

“If you try and fight me, you'll lose,” he told her simply, recovering his breath after their little scuffle. “I can assure you of that, if nothing else. I can't let you live. I'm sure you know that.”

“So, how do we proceed?” A predatory smile warped his features slightly, making his smile darker and his eyes glint with a kind of ferocious glee. If there was one thing he enjoyed, it was fighting this kind of abhorrent, conceited arrogance. She was obviously one of them, and so she had no place in his world. In his eyes, that meant she had two options: die here, a traitor to humanity, or cooperate long enough to deserve a quick, unremarkable death.

It was ironic that, at that moment, he was stood in the like and she in darkness. It might've represented the line that divided them, for her believed in fighting fire with fire, for the good of the people, because there was no other way to rid the world of demons other than burning their houses to the ground rebuilding the world. The black that surrounded her might've suggested how stained her soul was because of all her misdeeds - and he'd no doubt she carried plenty, though she likely wouldn't see them as such - or it might've just been his mind changing the situation because he could remember all too well how people like her had sent him to his death.

It was stupid of him, though, to forget that they had record of him and she could have recognised him the second she'd seen him. Flushed with victory, he'd forgotten his weakness.

Who does that remind you of?

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2010, 6:51 pm 
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Lilly nodded her head, glad that Adrianna also affirmed her hopes. She knew that she shouldn’t worry too much, it affected her too much and the baby as well. Still deep down inside, she couldn’t help but feel some concern. Doctor Whittaker had not only proved to be an excellent doctor, who actually stuck up for her and wanted to help her, while nobody else did, but also a kind friend, with whom she could actually discuss her worries. She’d found that such people were rare to find these days, and couldn’t help but despair the day that her path and the doctors were to separate again.

Even though Cameron hadn’t gone into details about Adrianna’s work and his sister’s attitude was one of modesty and friendliness, Lilly couldn’t help but notice Adrianna’s self-assurance and her lack of fear. She seemed unafraid, as if she knew that she was untouchable. Her aura of immunity made Lilly feel insignificant. Although she was only two years Adrianna’s junior, couldn’t the redhead and the brunette be less alike. Lilly was relatively small compared to Adrianna, and of course heavily pregnant. Adrianna was reserved, almost quiet, while Lilly was impulsive and outgoing. But most important, the brunette knew how this world worked, and even though Lilly had experienced that in quite another way, she was actually still a child who was forced to grow up way too soon and lost her innocence.

“I guess you’re right..” she said softly and in a hopeful tone she added: “He will come tomorrow.” She glanced sideways at Adrianna and wondered how it was to have a brother in your life. A brother to tease and talk to, one who would support and protect you. But then she remembered the quarrel she heard back at the house and she couldn’t help but satisfy her curious nature.
“Do you and Cameron see each other often? It must be so great to have a brother around..”

--------------------------

A door, just an ordinary door separated him from his freedom. The doors were fancy, of dark oaken wood, carved out with beautiful figures. If he went one foot out of this door, he would officially be dead, unable to see any loved ones or return to his job again. He sighed deeply and then faced the blonde. Her look was honest and determined and Dylan did not look away. Gratitude and hope was evident on his face as Allegra made her kind offer. He’d not dared to think ahead so far into the future, but last night, the moments of solitude had made him think and he’d not been able to ignore the doom scenario’s that had come to his mind.
“Yes,” he said while taking her hands in his. “I will gladly take your offer and I won’t talk you out of it. But I might prove to be greater burden than you think. Harbouring a criminal might cost you more than you bargained for..” Dylan’s grey eyes looked into hers, yet he already knew that Allegra wouldn’t change her mind and regretted it. After all Allegra had done for him, he could not bear to see her get hurt.

As she opened the door, Dylan stepped into the darkness. By breathing in the cold air his headache was relieved and his head cleared. He took a few steps, still hardly believing that his plan had worked in the end. How ordinary the evening had started out, only to end as the most bizarre and horrible night he’d ever experienced. Now he allowed his mind to trail on less essential matters Dylan suddenly stopped in his tracks and grabbed Allegra arm.
“My house.. What will happen to it?” There was a tiny tremble in his voice, but then added with more determination. “ If I am to leave everything I know behind, then I have to get there something.. It won't take long.”

[ Wow.. :blink: Goldy & Darky, both your length of posts make me blush when I post mine. :blush: But I still believe that quality doesn't come in quatity.. I hope it's quality though.. :P
Nah, I should stop rambling.. :P ]

_________________


O children, lift up your voice, lift up your voice,
Children, rejoice, rejoice..

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It doesn't matter you don't believe in God, He believes in you.


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