BRRL - Gen Five - Part Three


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Boolpropian Round Robin Legacy - Generation Five - Part Three

Staring Ainesly Doran, this begins her story in Veronaville, starting at the nearby Stratford Globe College.

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BRRL - Gen Five - Part Three

  1. 1. There are only a few times when a college dormitory is truly quiet. Most often, this involves the students being off campus and simply not in residence. At least once a semester, there are also those panicked moments right before exams when everyone is studying furiously to either keep their grade or save it. While it is often missed, there is also a brief moment in the dead of night when even the most dedicated night owl falls asleep. For those few, flickering seconds, the dorm is truly silent. For one resident, that moment is when the nightmares come.
  2. 2. Ainsley whimpered and twisted her body, tangling the sheets between her legs. A bead of sweat formed on her brow as she flinched away from the nightmare.
  3. 3. “No...”
  4. 4. It was the same nightmare she’d been having every night since the attack outside of the arts building. Every night, she faced down the same horrifying images playing in an unending loop. The images were not as clear as her visions, but they still brutally seized hold of her and refused to let go.
  5. 5. Bottom sat up as she woke abruptly, “Ugh..” It took a moment for her to register the muffled cries of her roommate that had pulled her out of sleep. Swinging her feet over the side of the bed, she reached over and shook the other bed lightly, “Aine, wake up. You’re having a nightmare.” She sighed softly and added under her breath, “Again.”
  6. 6. Ainsley sat up abruptly with a strangled cry she quickly swallowed to the back of her throat. Breathing heavily as if she’d just been running for her life, she quickly scanned the room for danger, “I.. I..” Finally her gaze settled on her roommate, “I..I was having a nightmare?” “Yes.” Wincing, she looked away, “Sorry.”
  7. 7. “Don’t apologize, Aine.” Bottom gave a quick glance at the clock by her bedside before she rose and stretched, “Unless you’re secretly eating a large anchovy pizza and a bag full of sliders every night before bed, it’s not your fault.” Slowly getting up and regaining her composure, Ainsley wrinkled her nose, “Sliders are gross.” “Heathen.” Bottom moved over to the desk and flipped on the light, “Was it the same dream you’ve been having?” The half-alien hesitated for a moment before she nodded.
  8. 8. “Look, I know you’re still a little leery of the idea of there being elves out there that don’t hate half-breeds, but it’s kind of obvious something’s got hold of you. My mom...” Ainsley interrupted her, “It’s okay, Bo. Honestly. I’m just stressed about finals coming up. I still have a lot of work to do and there’s the show I’m auditioning for. Professor Kirby says if I nail the audition, I could get the lead. This is a huge opportunity for me.” Bottom pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows, just giving the other girl a skeptical look.
  9. 9. Ainsley couldn’t help but give a little smile. The relationship between the two of them had been rocky and very awkward in the beginning. After the attack, though, things were cleared up and they settled into a surprisingly easy friendship. “Seriously, Bo, it’s okay. It was just a nightmare. I’m sure they’ll stop when the semester is over and we get a breather.” “That’s why you wake up every night looking like you’ve been running for your life after seeing your whole family slaughtered.” She winced, “Can you just leave it alone, please? It’s nothing.”
  10. 10. Bottom leaned back and stubbornly crossed her arms over her chest, “It is not nothing and you know it, Ainsley.” She swore under her breath and looked away, “Fine. I’ll drop it, but if they start getting any worse, promise me you that you’ll let me call my mom.” Ainsley sighed and nodded, “If they get worse, I promise I will.” She didn’t tell Bottom that the nightmares had been getting worse and were verging on what she got with a true vision. The last thing she wanted to do was reveal the full extent of her powers to a full-blooded elf. Rolling her eyes, Bottom sighed and turned towards her dresser, “At least you waited until it was almost time to get up. The alarm would have gone off in another twenty minutes anyway.”
  11. 11. Putting on an optimistic smile, Ainsley turned towards the door, “That means we can get into the showers first. Ooh, and we might get Al’s pancakes before they start becoming too crusty.” Bottom responded with a grumpy grumble, “I hate morning people.” “That’s because you hate everything until you get your coffee.”
  12. 12. Despite her light demeanor, Bottom followed the other girl with a concerned expression on her face. The nightmares were getting worse, but there was nothing she could do about it until Ainsley wanted help. If she’d learned anything about her roommate it was that it was nearly impossible to force her to do something she didn’t want to do. Sighing, she called out, “Oh hey, do you have some shampoo I can borrow? Merc stole my last bottle when he ran out. He mumbled something about preferring to smell like cherries and apples then let his hair get greasy. I swear that boy is so stupidly vain.” ~-~-~-~
  13. 13. Pushing the reoccurring nightmare out of her thoughts, Ainsley went about her day. That afternoon, she met up with Tybalt to study. Instead of heading to the library as usual, they instead chose to sit outside the science building, overlooking the town and lake below. Of course, as beautiful as the day was, they really didn’t accomplish much actual studying. Tilting her head and quirking a sideways smile at Tybalt, Ainsley asked, “So, have you asked Jaiden out yet?”
  14. 14. “Why would I do that?” Tybalt blinked in surprise before he gave a defensive shrug and looked away from her gently amused gaze. “Because she’s done everything except hit you upside the head with a sledgehammer to tell you she’s interested, Ty.” Ainsley smiled and looked away granting him a slight reprieve, “Let me change the question. Why haven’t you asked her out? You’re obviously as interested in her as she is in you.” Tybalt sighed, “It’s more complicated than that. I’d like to ask her out, but I promised my grandfather I’d meet this girl from a prestigious family he has business dealings with.” Taking on the stodgy tones of his grandfather, he quoted, “It would be an advantageous arrangement if our heirs should choose to join our families.”
  15. 15. “Wow. I didn’t know people still thought like that.” She gave him a curious look, “You aren’t seriously considering marrying some girl you’ve never met, are you?” “My grandfather has done a lot for me and my sisters. I’m going to meet the girl and see how things go.” Tybalt frowned as his loyal words warred with his actual feelings, “It’s the least I owe him.” Ainsley shrugged with a smile, “It sounds more like he’s brokering a business merger than looking out for a grandchild’s happiness. I know I couldn’t do that to anyone, but Merc did say your grandfather and his pretty much think about everything in terms of how it can advance their business plans.”
  16. 16. Tybalt suddenly stood up with an angry look on his face. Stepping away from the ledge he’d been sitting on, he seethed as he looked out over the town below. Blinking, Ainsley swung her legs off the ledge and gave him a worried look, “Ty, what did I say?” Voice cold, he asked in a clipped tone, “You were talking about my family with Mercutio Monty?”
  17. 17. Crossing her arms, Ainsley regarded him with a vaguely frustrated look, “You know I’m friends with him too, Ty. I’m not going to pretend I’m not for your sake, just as I won’t pretend I’m not your friend when I hang out with him.” “You had no right to talk about my family with him!” Pursing her lips, she held her ground, “I wasn’t gossiping about your family, Ty. He made a comment about HIS grandfather and mentioned how similar your grandfather and his were, that’s all.”
  18. 18. He was slightly mollified, but still obviously angry, “I don’t like that you hang out with him. He’s no good.” Raising both eyebrows, she gave him a questioning look, “Why? He’s never done anything wrong to me except make bad jokes. I tell him the exact same about you. Well, you don’t make bad jokes, but you know what I mean. Why do you two hate each other so much?” Tybalt was silent for a moment before he spoke, “Our families have always been at odds. It got personal between us when his brother seduced my sister.” “Seduced? I thought they were high school sweethearts.”
  19. 19. “Hrmph. That’s what he wants you to think.” Tybalt barely kept the venom in his voice in check as he gave her an incredulous look, “Romeo Monty is a player and a user. He knew exactly how to lie to my sister and make her think she actually meant something to him.” “But they’ve been dating for years, haven’t they? If she didn’t mean anything to him, wouldn’t he have broken up with her when he..” She blushed faintly, “ what he wanted?” Tybalt gave a dismissive shrug, “He likes playing games with my family. He pushes Juliette to go as far as he can get her to and when she says no, he turns around and fools around with some other girl that is willing to do what he wants. Hell, the last rumor I heard, he was making the moves on my cousin Miranda too.”
  20. 20. Ainsley considered this for a moment before she said gently, “I guess it does sound like a frustrating situation, especially if your families have never gotten along, but if he was all that bad, wouldn’t Juliette have left him by now?” Tybalt frowned, “She’s just a dumb girl..” Looking up, Ainsley raised both eyebrows and spoke with the barest hint of danger in her voice, “A dumb girl?”
  21. 21. Making a frustrated sound in his throat, Tybalt said, “I’m just going to piss you off if I keep talking, so I’m going to go. I’ll just say that Juliette isn’t the brightest bulb in the box of crayons and it doesn’t surprise me that he’s kept her fooled all this time.” Relenting a little, he said in a slightly gentler tone, “Sorry for biting your head off, Aine. I’ll talk to you later.” “Bye Ty.” She sighed and watched him go. It was getting harder and harder to stay friends with both boys and keep the two worlds from intersecting. ~-~-~-~
  22. 22. “I’m telling you, Aine. I’m going to school you so hard this time.” Ainsley smiled as she dribbled the basketball during her weekly game with Mercutio. Despite his regular claims otherwise, she usually won, but he was a good sport about it, “That’s what you say all the time, Merc.” “Well, one of these times I’ll be right. Come on, swing batta batta SWING!” She laughed, “Wrong game, dork.”
  23. 23. As she eyed the basket and lined up the shot, she said, “Can I ask you a question, Merc?” “Sure, I don’t charge for those. Whassup?” Making the shot, Ainsley watched as the ball hit the backboard and rebounded into the net with a whoosh, “What’s the story with you and Tybalt?” He blinked, “What?”
  24. 24. Turning to face him, she said, “I try to not flaunt the fact that I’m friends with both of you, but it’s getting harder to keep things separate. I talked to him about it, but I also wanted to hear it from your side.” Mercutio grimaced and then joked, “You’re just asking so I don’t beat you at Horse, aren’t you?” She gave him a little smile, “Sure. So what’s your side of things?” “His grandfather hates my grandfather and they’ve both done the best they can to ruin each other. They both think it’s some sort of moral imperative to make the next generation hate each other too.” He shrugged, “There’s not much else too it.”
  25. 25. “You don’t seem as caught up in it all as Ty does.” Mercutio sighed, “To be honest, I’d prefer to stay out of the whole mess if I could. Back in high school, I was friends with Hermia and I always thought she was pretty cool until she hung Puck out to dry.” He paused and then added, “My grandfather doesn’t look at me and Romeo the way Tybalt’s grandfather looks at him. I think my grandfather has been hoping my little cousin Benedict will be the ‘man to carry the family’, or my Aunt Bianca will have a kid he can ‘trust’ someday. He looks at me and sees a clown. And Romeo, well, he’s just too Romeo.” “I heard someone say that Romeo has been playing Juliette.”
  26. 26. At that, Mercutio snorted, “You really have been talking to Tybalt. Romeo doesn’t play Juliette any more than she plays him. The two are a matched set if I ever saw one. He’s completely head over heels in love with her, but he can’t keep it in his pants if he sees another pretty girl looking his way. Thing is, Juliette’s just as bad as he is, but less obvious about it.” Ainsley was surprised at that, “She is?” “Oh hell yeah. Tybalt may turn a blind eye to it since she’s his little sister, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s as much of a horn dog as Romeo is. She may play the coy little virgin with Romeo, but they both know better. She’s already worked her way through half the guys in her dorm.” He gave a disgusted shrug, “Hell, she was trying to get Puck in the sack while Romeo was in class the other day.”
  27. 27. Ainsley looked shocked and indignant “She did?!? What.. what did Puck do?” Mercutio quirked an amused smile, “Yeah she did, but you can relax. She’s totally not his type and he said no fast enough to make her head spin. It’s not like she and Romeo don’t know about each other fooling around, but they’re too in love with the idea of their star-crossed romance to actually ever break up.” Still frowning, Ainsley shrugged, “Well, they should learn to be a little more circumspect or someone’s going to get hurt.” She paused and gave Mercutio a questioning look, “What are you smiling at?”
  28. 28. Crooking his finger, he beckoned her forward to share a secret, “Come here.” Curious and concerned, she leaned over to hear his whispered words, “Yeah?” “You make a totally adorable expression when you’re jealous.” “I do not!” Ainsley blinked and pulled back as she stared at him.
  29. 29. He just laughed, “You do so!” Even though her cheeks colored with embarrassment, she playfully reached out and punched his shoulder, “I am not jealous.” “Of course you’re not. Just remember to invite me to the wedding.” “You are impossible!” Giving a roll of her eyes and a sigh, she retrieved the basketball and tossed it towards him, “Your shot.” ~-~-~-~
  30. 30. Even though she understood the feud a little better, Ainsley knew there was nothing she could do immediately to resolve the bad blood between her two friends. The semester had reached the panic point where everyone’s projects and papers were coming due, so for the moment, there were more pressing things to worry about. She and Bottom sat in companionable silence only broken by the steady clicking of their typing. Her attention was so focused on the paper she was writing, she missed the restless fidgeting of her roommate. Bottom frowned at the screen and finally looked over at Ainsley with a thoughtful expression.
  31. 31. “Psst. Aine.” She leaned forward and tapped on the desk to get the other girl’s attention, “Do you have your first draft done?” Startled, Ainsley blinked away from the monitor, “Huh? Oh, yeah.” She gave a sheepish smile, “I’ve already started on my revisions.” “Good. So have I. This means we’re going out tonight.” “But..” “No buts.” Bottom had made up her mind, “We need a break and Jaiden told me there’s an awesome band playing down in town tonight.”
  32. 32. “But everything is due on Monday and if we don’t finish..” Before Ainsley could say anything else, Bottom said, “If we don’t take a break, my brain is going to be the consistency of jelly by Sunday morning. Come on, Aine. You need a break too. Let’s get a bunch of people together and go listen to good music and dance the stress out of our brains.” Bottom smirked, “You do like to dance, don’t you.” Ainsley couldn’t help but smile, “Well yeah..”
  33. 33. “Good, it’s settled then.” Bottom stood up and pulled her flash drive out of the slot on the computer, “We can finish our papers tomorrow and polish them up on Sunday. Tonight, we party.” ~-~-~-~
  34. 34. With still a few hours to go before they were going to meet in town, Ainsley took a moment to head to the cafeteria to grab some dinner. Tybalt was already there eating his own bowl of institutional macaroni and cheese, “Are you still mad at me?” She asked hesitantly as she sat down. Tybalt paused with a forkful of pasta halfway to his mouth, “I was never mad at you.” Ainsley gave a relieved smile as she turned to face him, “You looked like you were.” At that, he quirked a rueful smile, “I always look that way. Don’t take it personally.” “Okay.” Stirring her fork through her bowl, she asked, “Hey, would you want to go see a band tonight? Bo decided we needed a break from papers and studying and she said she heard this group is pretty good.”
  35. 35. Tybalt gave what passed for a smile on his face, “That sounds like fun. If you promise not to make me feel guilty for making you sad, I promise I’ll try not to do anything stupid.” “Well, I won’t hold you to that.” “Hey!” Ainsley laughed, “I want to take a quick shower then I’ll be ready to start walking down if you want to walk with me.” “Sounds like a plan.” ~-~-~-~
  36. 36. “So you’ll come with me to the show?” Cuddled up with Mercutio in the lounge, Bottom gave him an expectant smile. Mercutio made a sound that was at once both happy and frustrated, “Are you sure we can’t just stay in? If Aine is going out, we could use your room..” He trailed off suggestively. Thumping his shoulder lightly, she said, “It was my idea to go out. I can’t abandon her.” Giving him a little smirk, she wiggled a little closer, “If you don’t want to go, I can go without you. I’ll miss you, though.” Groaning, he grumbled huskily, “You’re gonna be the death of me.”
  37. 37. Bottom laughed, “Not if Puck finds out what we’ve been doing first.” Growling playfully, Mercutio grabbed her thigh and leaned in for a kiss, “Fine, I’ll go out, but I want at least one hot and steamy dance with you all to myself.” Laughing into the kiss, she grinned, “I think that can be arranged.” Amidst the long, playful kiss he murmured, “Sounds like a plan.” ~-~-~-~
  38. 38. Down in the town, Miranda Capp leaned against the building as she waited with Puck outside of the club they were all meeting at. Voice deceptively mild, she asked casually, “So. Are you over Hermia yet?” Puck blinked and turned to give her an odd look, “Why?” Tossing her hair over her shoulder, Miranda gave him a predatory smile, “Because I’ve always admired the way you fill out a pair of jeans, Puck.” “No Miranda. Just.. No.” Puck tried to gentle the rejection with an exasperated smile, “I’ve had enough of Capp girls for this lifetime.” “Your loss, Red.” Changing the subject he pointed, “Here comes Bo. Looks like she’s got Merc with her.”
  39. 39. Bo and Mercutio walked down the street hand in hand. Seeing Puck looking their way, Mercutio said, “Have you told Puck about us yet?” “Us? What us?” “Oh, come on Bo, don’t do this to me. You know I’m certifiable for you.” Mercutio turned to give her puppy eyes but suddenly frowned with a hint of irritation, “You didn’t tell me HE was coming.”
  40. 40. “You didn’t tell me HE was coming.” Crossing the street with Ainsley, Tybalt growled under his breath, “If I’d known he was going to be here, I’d have stayed back in the dorm. I’d have more fun clipping my toenails.” “You promised you would try to not make me sad, Ty. Please play nice?” Ainsley gave him a hopeful, optimistic smile, “Just ignore him and we can all have fun, okay? For me?” He grumbled something about not making promises he couldn’t keep.
  41. 41. “I feel like I’m standing in the rapidly shrinking eye of a hurricane. We’re about to get slammed.” Puck sighed as he turned to watch Mercutio approach with his sister. Miranda raised an eyebrow as she watched the other direction where Tybalt was glowering as he crossed the street, “Want to bet tonight is when one of them kills the other?” “You’re a pessimist, Miranda.” Puck paused and then added, “Besides, that’s a sucker bet. Someone’s getting hurt tonight.”
  42. 42. Sure enough, as soon as Mercutio and Tybalt were close enough, the shouting began. “Looks like someone decided to crawl out of his hole and mingle with real humans. Did you at least remember to shower, Capp?” “I’m not the one that smells like llama manure, Monty. If I’d known you were going to be here, I would have brought a vat of disinfectant, Monty. Your slime always leaves a trail to follow.” “Great. Just great.” Bottom put her hands on her hips and glared at the two young men as she stood beside Ainsley. With a sigh, she asked her roommate, “Let me guess, you invited Tybalt?”
  43. 43. “You didn’t say not to.” Ainsley cringed as she listened to the insults being flung between the two men. “I didn’t know you were going to bring Mercutio.” Bottom sighed and under her breath murmured, “Merc and I have been fooling around since last semester,Aine.” She watched him hurl another insult relating Tybalt’s parentage to goats and orangutans, “Of course, after tonight, I’m beginning to wonder if I made the right choice with him. So yeah, of course I invited him.” She cast a surreptitious glance at her brother to see if he’d overheard her comment. Apparently not. Ainsley flinched as if one of the insults were a physical blow, “I wish they would get along. I hate watching them like this.” “If wishes were fishes.” Bo sighed, “Idiots.”
  44. 44. “Well if you were actually had more than a second grade education you might know what the hell I’m talking about.” Tybalt gestured angrily and inadvertently poked Mercutio’s shoulder. “Oh you did NOT just touch me! That is the LAST straw.” Mercutio snarled as he leaned forward angrily, “Now it’s on, carrot-top!” Even though the poke had been completely unintentional, Tybalt squared his shoulders, “Yeah? The last straw, Scarecrow? Does this mean you’ll run away now?”
  45. 45. “You are so dead, Capp! I’m tired of your shit. SO tired of it!” Mercutio hauled back his fist and swung wildly at Tybalt’s face. It was a glancing blow as Tybalt had realized the fight was headed into physical territory just as Mercutio swung. Reeling backwards, snarled and aimed a low punch at Mercutio’s gut, “You think you’re tired of it? Try walking in my shoes for a day, Monty!” Puck rolled his eyes as the two began pounding on each other in earnest.
  46. 46. Once the first punches were thrown, there really wasn’t time for talking. It was a matter of moments before the fight became an all out brawl in the alley between the club and the building next door. Unleashing their anger, Mercutio and Tybalt squared off at each other, trying to land wild punches without regard to the pain they were going to feel when all was said and done. For a few moments it looked like a typical boxing match, but then Mercutio charged Tybalt and tackled him to the ground. After that, they rolled over the top of each other in the dirt, still trying to land a good punch.
  47. 47. “Enough of this crap. I’m through here.” Bo finally walked away from watching the fight, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them ruin my night. I’m headed inside where I’m going to get a strong drink and then I’m going to dance myself stupid.” Puck gave a disgusted snort and nodded, “I’ll buy the first round.” Giving the fighters another annoyed glance, he turned and walked into the club.
  48. 48. The fact that their audience was disappearing went completely unnoticed. Mercutio and Tybalt were only focused on one another. The two rolled around in the dirty like an angry pair of lovers, kneeing and punching one another when the opportunity presented itself. Occasionally Mercutio would fire off a sarcastic comment, infuriating Tybalt even further. Eventually, the punches and insults started coming slower and slower. Anger and energy seemed to dissipate at the same rate, though neither was willing to be the one to give in. Each punch seemed to have a lead weight attached as they rolled around in the dirt.
  49. 49. As the only one left watching Ainsley was the last one to lose her patience. Throwing her hands up in the air in disgust, she shouted, “STOP IT! STOP IT NOW! I can’t believe you two!” Somehow, her words filtered through the fading rage, causing both to stop where they were and blink in her direction. “Look at you! Think about it for a minute. The only problems you actually have with one another have nothing to do with each other! So what if your grandfathers hate one another? That’s not your fight. And as far as brother and sister go, do you realize they both came here with other people tonight but are inside making out right now?!? It seems to me they both know exactly what they’re doing. They don’t care, so why should you!?”
  50. 50. Mercutio lay there on his back, staring up at the night sky while Tybalt slowly pushed himself up with his hands, “Ainsley..” “No! I’m done with both of you until you grow up! I’m not putting myself through this any longer. I like both of you, but I refuse to stand in the middle as you try and kill each other! Get over yourselves!” With that, she turned and stalked into the club.
  51. 51. “Wow. She’s pissed.” Tybalt blinked and watched her go. There was a touch of blood at the corner of his mouth and he could already feel the bruise forming on his cheek. Mercutio groaned and closed his eyes. Well, closed the one that wasn’t already swelling shut, “If we made Ainsley yell at us, we really must be stupid.” He sighed, “Are Romeo and Juliette really in there groping one another?” Looking into the windows, Tybalt nodded, “Their dates look pretty pissed.” Mercutio nodded, “Y’know what, I’m tired of fighting everyone else’s battles.” Wincing as he sat up, he said, “I’m going to plant my ass down at the bar and buy you a drink.” Tybalt frowned and slowly got up, “Not if I buy you one first.” ~-~-~-~
  52. 52. The fight pretty much ended at the right point. As Ainsley came into the club, the band was just starting their set. No one had ever heard of them, but the band didn’t let that slow them down. One of the best ways to get your name out there was to become a hit on the college circuit. Get their music into the heads of the students out for some cheap entertainment while they tried to forget about finals and they’d have it made. At least, that’s the plan.
  53. 53. The band was a traditional rock quartet, but blended a mix of pop and R&B into the expected rhythms of rock and roll and created something catchy and utterly danceable. By the time the first song was done, they had most of the crowd was either on the floor dancing or headed there.
  54. 54. One of the last to enter the writhing mass of dancing college students, Puck watched from the side for a moment. Though there was a sea of people in front of him, there was only one person he was paying attention to. Taking a deep breath, he screwed up his courage and started threading his way through the crowd to approach the object of his attention.
  55. 55. Stopping in front of Ainsley, he smiled and pitched his voice to be heard over the music, “Dance?” She blinked uncertainly at him, “What?” “WILL YOU DANCE WITH ME?” Puck bellowed the request just as there was a convenient pause between songs. Eyes widening in embarrassment, Puck’s cheeks colored as he looked around and saw everyone staring at him.
  56. 56. The charismatic lead singer grinned impishly, “Tell him yes, sweetheart! He deserves at least one dance now.” The crowd echoed with a shout of affirmation and started chanting as the band ripped into the next song, “Say Yes! Say Yes! Say Yes!”
  57. 57. Ainsley blushed at the attention, but couldn’t look away from Puck’s hopeful gaze, “I.. I..” Sensing her hesitation and fearing he was about to be turned down, he gave a quick, boyish smile, “You heard the guy. Say yes. Please?” Unable to help herself, Ainsley’s expression softened at the smile. Biting her lip briefly, she nodded, “Okay. One dance.” What could one dance hurt?
  58. 58. “I’m still mad at you, y’know. Buying you a drink is not a sign that we’re going to be friends or anything.” Mercutio leaned precariously against the bar as he glowered in Tybalt’s direction. In the time it had taken the band to get through their first few songs, the pair had also gotten through an equal number of drinks. The bartender had taken one look at the battered pair and made their drinks exceptionally strong. “Like I’d want to be your friend.” Tybalt harrumphed, “What the hell would I do with a friend who understands the whole twisted mess our grandfathers got us into?” He paused and then asked, “Do you even know what they’re fighting about?”
  59. 59. “Not a clue. I figure it was a woman.” Mercutio nodded his head sagely. “A woman? That’s ridiculous.” Tybalt frowned, “My grandfather has ice water in his veins. Not to mention I don’t want to think of him ever getting it on with anyone.” “There was one time when Romeo and I snuck out for the night. When we got back, we figured we’d sneak in through the atrium at the back of the house, but when we got there we found our grandparents both totally nude doing something freaky straight out of the Kama-Sutra.”
  60. 60. Tybalt stared in horror at Mercutio for a long moment before he shuddered and closed his eyes, “Merc, that image is now totally burned into my brain and what has been seen can never be unseen. You really do hate me, don’t you?” “No seriously, they were really going at it and making these really enthusiastic little animal noises.” “Do NOT make me drag you back outside!”
  61. 61. While the odd conversation at the bar continued, the band made good on its promise to keep the audience on their feet. The beat stayed steady and strong, keeping everyone moving and losing themselves in the music. Even though Ainsley had only intended to dance with Puck for one song, they were still together several songs later. While her skill was more polished and professional, he had a natural grace that made them a well matched pair.
  62. 62. Amidst the driving beats, one familiar couple decided to take things a little slower, even if the music itself wasn’t calling for anything particularly romantic. Ainsley noticed the couple and quickly looked at Puck to see if he was upset. His eyes were on her. She blushed again. Puck smiled, “They’re a little out of place, aren’t they? Still, it is kind of sweet and romantic.” “I wasn’t sure if you’d noticed them.” “I did.” He hesitated for a moment before he added, “I think they’ve got the right idea.”
  63. 63. Stepping closer to her, he held out his hands and asked formally, “May I have this dance, Ms. Doran?” Suddenly nervous, Ainsley hesitated, “I.. shouldn’t.” “Why not?” Puck reached out and with a patient and gentle touch, guided her into his arms. “Why shouldn’t you dance with me?” She could have pulled away any time she wanted to, but Ainsley let him pull her closer despite her words, “I.. I don’t want to.” Amazingly, the band decided at that exact moment to switch to something slower and more romantic.
  64. 64. “I think you’re lying.” Puck’s tongue darted nervously over his lips before he gave her a faintly crooked smile and said just for her, “Do you know how long I’ve wanted to hold you like this?” Feeling her cheeks flushing as she blushed, Ainsley forgot the reasons why she had been avoiding him. Breathless she responded, “You have?” “I have.” Puck took a breath and held a moment before he confessed, “Hermia hasn’t been the reason I come to draw your dance class for a very, very long time.” Despite herself, a smile slowly formed to echo his. Their eyes stayed locked on one another as everyone else in the club seemed to fade into nothingness. Eyes locked on hers, he leaned closer and whispered, “I have wanted to do this since the moment I met you even if it took me a little while to realize what I was feeling.”
  65. 65. His lips met hers tentatively, testing her reaction. When she didn’t pull away, his confidence grew. The kiss was gentle and sweet but hinting at passion held back just beneath the surface. It was beautiful and frightening and it felt like it could last forever. But nothing lasts forever...
  66. 66. As he started pulling away with a breathless smile on his face, Ainsley felt unwelcome but familiar stirrings within herself, “No.. no… not now.” Puck’s eyes widened, “What?” Jerking away from him, she felt her knees give out as the vision took hold of her.
  67. 67. Home.
  68. 68. Passion.
  69. 69. Joy.
  70. 70. Happiness.
  71. 71. HATE.
  72. 72. Pain.
  73. 73. Uncertainty.
  74. 74. The vision was strong but fast. Puck was leaning down over her with a confused and worried expression on his face just as she jerked herself upright off the dance floor. Trembling head to toe, she gave him one panicked look before she started to scramble to her feet, “I won’t let it happen, I won’t!” Flinching back at the expression on her face, Puck stepped back in confusion, “Ainsley? What’s wrong?”
  75. 75. Without a word, she ran for the door, not even daring to look back at him. If she looked at him, she might stop. She might weaken. She might have to face the vision again and she couldn’t bear that.
  76. 76. “Wait, Ainsley..” Puck trailed off as she disappeared out the door, “What.. what did I do?” No one else seemed to have notice the incident. Looking around the dance floor in confusion, he tried to figure out what had just happened. Everything had been going so well.
  77. 77. “That was the girl?” “Do you see any other alien bastards down there?” Kern frowned with disinterest as she watched the drama unfold on the dance floor, “I don’t understand why you’re so interested in her, or why we can’t take out the boy and his sister right now. I have guns in the car.” A cruel smile curved the corner of her lips, “Who cares if a few apes get caught in the spray.” The red headed man turned his head slightly and gave a look that quelled her blood lust. “We’re not here for them. They can be dealt with later. I simply needed to see the girl for myself.”
  78. 78. Kal was bobbing his head to the music as he stood off to the side, “What’s so special about the little bitch?” His tone was bitter as he raised a hand to nurse his jaw. It had taken ages for it to heal. Oberon Gossamer rolled his eyes as he turned away from the balcony, “Neither of you are exactly useful for your intelligence, so I will patiently explain the situation.” His tone was condescending as he watched Puck quickly follow the path that Ainsley took out of the club. “The political situation with the Elder Council has been very precarious in recent years. Several have suffered grave embarrassment for failing to deal quickly and quietly with one specific family of half-breeds. That ‘alien bastard’ also happens to be a descendant of Carli Doran. The Doran family that has escaped the Council’s wrath far too many times.” A calculating smile formed as he turned to face his two companions, “And if I am lucky, this might give me the leverage I have been looking for.” ~-~-~-~
  79. 79. Ainsley ran. It didn’t matter which direction, she simply went where her feet took her. Each time the visions came they made her feel even more helpless, even more a victim of fate. Some small, irrational part of her clung to the hope that maybe this time she could outrun them and the message they brought.
  80. 80. It was a futile thought, but at least the exhaustion she felt when she finally stopped seemed to ease some of the panic. Her flight had taken her back up the hill towards campus and eventually to the far end where the old campus tower overlooked the surrounding area. She’d quickly made it up the four flights of steps and for a few moments, stood at the edge contemplating the ground far below. Eventually she moved back from the ledge and sat down on one of the cold benches. It wasn’t long at all before she heard someone coming up the stairs.
  81. 81. “How did you find me?” She didn’t look up, but she knew instantly that it was Puck. Relief was written across his features as he saw her sitting there. “You had said before you liked the view from up here. It’s a good place to go and be alone with your thoughts.” “I thought about jumping.” Puck’s brow furrowed in concern. Moving carefully to not startle her, he came around the railing and sat down on the bench beside her. “I’m glad you didn’t.”
  82. 82. Not looking up, Ainsley turned her head slightly to look at him as he watched her, “I can’t even do that right.” “There is no doing that right, Ainsley. It’s never the answer.” Puck’s expression showed the ache he felt for her, but he kept his hands on his lap as he watched her, “There’s always some other way.” “I’m just so tired.” She trailed off and closed her eyes. Very gently he asked, “What did you See? She should have been surprised that he knew about the visions, but somehow she wasn’t.
  83. 83. Standing up and moving over to the edge, she looked down at the campus for a long moment, “I.. I hate them. I hate the visions.” Puck almost reached out to grab her back, but restrained himself as he realized her demeanor wasn’t that of someone about to suicide. Standing up, he moved to one side so he could see her face, “Tell me what you saw. I know that talking about them sometimes helps my mother. Share the burden.” “I..” Ainsley stopped and then looked at him furtively before looking away with anguish washing over her features. “I saw you dying.”
  84. 84. Looking out across the horizon, she saw only the vision she’d been running from, “I thought maybe for once I was seeing something happy. Something good about the future. But no. There’s always blood and pain and hurt. It’s always that way.” Puck stood there and listened patiently. Ainsley closed her eyes and her voice dropped to the barest whisper, “I saw us, together. Happy. I think we had children together. It was.. it was nice. Warm. Safe. I was happy. But it never lasts. It’s always ripped away. There were faces and anguish and.. were dying. Someone had killed you.”
  85. 85. Stepping forward, Puck carefully reached out and gently took her arm, turning her to face him, “My mother is a Seer, and there is one thing she made sure all of us kids understood. Visions of the future are not the same as the future itself. They are warnings. Sometimes dangerous warnings, but we still have free will. We still have choices. Our lives are what WE choose and the visions are simply tools to help us along the way.” “But there was so much blood.” Her voice was small and frightened as she looked longingly into his face.
  86. 86. Raising a hand to lightly touch her cheek, Puck said softly, “It’s just a warning, Ainsley. It’s not a definitive end.” “I.. I can’t bear it, Puck. I can’t. I’m not that strong.” Her voice caught in her throat as he stepped closer. In an agonized whisper, she confessed in a half sob, “I want to be with you so much it hurts. I look at you and I can’t think of anyone else, but the dreams and the vision are all the same. If I.. if we are together, you’ll die. You’ll die and it will be my fault.” “You don’t know that for sure.” Puck took another tentative step forward. “But the visions..”
  87. 87. Slowly pulling her into his arms, Puck spoke with quiet strength, “The visions are not the future written in stone.” Feeling her trembling in his arms, he his heart began to beat faster, “I want you. I want you more than anything I’ve ever wanted before and if I have to face down the Hounds of Hell for even a moment of happiness with you, then so be it. I’m not going let you push me away because things MIGHT get dangerous.” Tilting her face upward to look into his eyes, Ainsley’s expression had the faintest glimmer of hope shining through the tears in her obsidian eyes. Taking a deep breath, he whispered, “I’m going to kiss you now. Try not to run away again?”
  88. 88. Her choked laugh was caught in the kiss. This time, neither of them held back. What was tentative at first quickly blossomed into the full passion that had only been hinted at before. Though there were no words, the heat of the kiss let them both know exactly how they felt about one another. ~-~-~-~
  89. 89. Later, after they had grown cold from the cold breeze brushing across the top of the tower, they decided to head back to the dorms. The kiss atop the tower was definitely not the last kiss of the night. In fact, every few feet it seemed as if they felt the need to stop and touch one another again, reassuring themselves that they hadn’t been dreaming. Most of the time the light kiss would end in another heated, exploring kiss. The closer they got to Ainsley’s dorm, the more they felt the need to stop. “Well about damn time.”
  90. 90. Of course, that close to the dorm, it was no surprise that they gained an audience. Seated casually on the steps leading into the dorm, Tybalt, Mercutio and Bottom watched the couple with varying degrees of amusement. There was a smug hint of satisfaction on Bottom’s face, amused mirth on Mercutio’s, and a slightly surprised confusion on Tybalt’s. Bottom smirked, “I swear if you two had held out any longer, I would have locked you in a room until you came to your senses.”
  91. 91. Puck reached up and touched Ainsley’s chin, “Do you want to run back down the quad and see if we can escape them? Or maybe I should chase them off?” Leaning into the touch, Ainsley smiled and gave a little shake of her head, “No. They’re obnoxious, but they’re friends. They knew before we did.” She paused and clarified, “They knew before I did at least.” He smiled and took her hand and they walked over towards the trio.
  92. 92. “Of course, I knew! You two have been making moo-moo eyes at one another for weeks now.” Mercutio grinned impishly, “And then there was the time Ainsley got totally jealous because I told her about..” Bo leaned back and elbowed him in the knee, “Shut up, Merc before I give you another black eye to complete the set.” Looking back to the couple, she eyed her brother, “I was going to revoke your good brother privileges if you didn’t go after her back at the club. I’m glad to see you were smart enough to do the right thing.” Puck just snorted.
  93. 93. “Don’t look at me.” Tybalt gave a lopsided grin that was made even worse by the cut on his lip, “I didn’t have a clue. I kept wondering why Aine wasn’t into me.” He looked up at her and shrugged, “I thought of asking you out when we were freshmen, but it never seemed right. Now I know why.” Hand still entwined in Puck’s, Ainsley ducked her gaze but then looked up and smiled at him, “Now you need to ask Jaiden out.” “OH! That reminds me!” Bottom suddenly hopped up from the sidewalk and rushed over to Ainsley.
  94. 94. “I have the most brilliant idea!” Ainsley hesitated, “Why do I think I should be afraid.” “Pfft. Not like that.” Bottom grinned from ear to ear, “So after finals this week, we’ll all be juniors. Not you, bro. I know you’ll be a senior.” When Ainsley nodded, she continued, “Juniors are encouraged to live in off-campus housing to make room for all the newbies!” “But it’s so expensive. I looked at off campus housing when,” She trailed off and smiled, “When I thought you’d want to kill me. Anyway, it was too expensive. I couldn’t afford anything I’d actually want to live in.”
  95. 95. “The key, Ainsley my dear, is that we all chip in and get a place together!” Bottom gestured excitedly, “Between the four of us, five if Puck wants in for a year, we can easily afford the rent on a place. I know you’ve been acing your classes, so you have to have some decent scholarship money saved up.” Ainsley considered for a moment. Sharing a house. It would be a home for at least a little while. Slowly, a smile began dawning across her features, “I think it sounds like a brilliant idea, Bo.”
  96. 96. Puck eyed the two young men on the stairs, “You two are willing to live in the same house together?” “We came to a bit of an understanding tonight.” Tybalt explained with a shrug. Mercutio nodded, “Captain Morgan and Jack Daniels helped mediate, but we decided we were tired being enemies, so even if we aren’t exactly friends, we can at least be not-enemies for a while. Puck let his relief show in his smile, “Good. It’s about time.” Mercutio’s grin grew sly as he looked up at Puck, “So it’s about time with you too. I’m guessing you’ve had a good night?”
  97. 97. Puck didn’t blush, but he did look over his shoulder with a fond smile, “You could say that. It’s going to be the first of many. That I promise you.” ~-~-~-~
  98. 98. “You’re sure we can afford this?” Tybalt looked up at the house with skeptical arch to his eyebrows. Bottom nodded, “Between the four of us, we can easily afford this place and still have enough to live on.” She frowned, “I don’t understand why you’re worried. This place has everything we need.” “It doesn’t have any furniture.” Mercutio pointed out helpfully. She sighed, “We can hit up Goodwill. We don’t need too much.” Giving Ainsley a looked she pleaded, “Help me out here, what more do I need to do to sell this place to you guys? We can afford it and it’s perfect.”
  99. 99. Ainsley glanced over her shoulder and added helpfully, “It’s across the street from the beach.” “SOLD!” Mercutio grinned impishly, “Bikinis here I come!” Bottom just gave him a look, “If you show up in a speedo, I’m making you sleep outside.” Turning to look at Tybalt, she said, “Come on, Ty. Can we count you in? All we need to do is sign the lease and we’re in.” He debated a moment before he nodded, “Alright. As long as I don’t have to room with him anymore, I’ll do anything.” ~-~-~-~
  100. 100. It didn’t take long for them to pack up everything from the dorm and get it moved into the new house. Furniture was a bit of a problem, but Mercutio and Bottom ended up saving the day when they mysteriously appeared with a used couch, three halfway decent double beds, and a kitchen table set that looked mysteriously like one that had been in the cafeteria back in the dorm. If anyone noticed that a table and some chairs had gone missing, no one said anything. Once they were in the house, the first order of business was to spend an entire day outside of the house on the beach.
  101. 101. “AHG! NOT IN THE FACE NOT IN THE FACE!” Mercutio ducked as the softball came winging towards his nose. From where she was sunbathing, Bottom sighed, “If you boys can’t play nice, you’re not going to get dessert tonight.” Tybalt smirked, “Aw, no cookies for us. Mom said so, Merc.” Puck shook his head from the chair he’d set up nearby, “I don’t know how the heck those two are going to be able to keep sharing a room together. Even when they get along they’re trying to kill each other.”
  102. 102. Settling back on the towel, Ainsley smiled, “They’re not sharing a room. Ty’s getting one all to himself.” Puck looked confused and vaguely disappointed, “So you and Bottom are sharing a room?” “No, I got the other small bedroom. Bo and Merc are going to share the master bedroom.” She laid back and closed her eyes, missing the horrified expression on Puck’s face. It took about two minutes for the cry of righteous, brotherly indignation to finally escape the stranglehold his throat had on it, “WHAT!?”
  103. 103. “It’s not like that, Puck. Honest. I swear. Please don’t hurt me.” Standing there with his arms crossed and his gaze narrowed, Puck just listened as Mercutio scrambled to explain. “We’ve actually been kinda dating for a while now.” Mercutio winced, “Oh man, don’t give me that look. I know I’d be giving some dude the same look if he was banging my sister, but… Oh hey, I didn’t mean it that way.”
  104. 104. Puck growled, “You’ve been having sex with my baby sister?” Mercutio threw his hands up in the air, “I am totally head over heels gone for your sister and if she’d let us be something official, I’d be there in an instant. She’s the only girl I’ve been with and I plan on keeping it that way, Puck. God, would you please stop looking at me like you want to drill a hole in my head.” The red head’s eyes narrowed.
  105. 105. Giving up, Mercutio threw his hands in the air, “Kill me if you want to, but tell me this. Would your sister do anything if she didn’t want to? Come on, Puck, this is Bottom we’re talking about. I didn’t stand a chance once she gave into my lame flirting. You know she’s the one wearing the pants. I do what she wants and I like it that way.” He paused and added under his breath, “Man, do I sound whipped.” Puck stood there for a moment longer before his shoulders slumped a little, “If you hurt her, I’m going to string you up with your own entrails.” “Oh thank god. I can deal with that.”
  106. 106. “So he just rolled his eyes and headed off to find Aine. I think that means he’s going to let me live.” Mercutio climbed into the hot tub Bottom had somehow scavenged for their house. A grin lit up his face as he slid close to her, “No thanks to you, though. You could have told him we’re dating.” “Who said we’re dating?” Bottom’s eyebrows arched mischievously as she slid a leg over his provocatively, “And I did hear him say if you hurt me, he’s going to eviscerate you. So you better be nice to me.” He groaned and leaned his head back against the tub, “You are so going to be the death of me.”
  107. 107. While Mercutio and Bottom were breaking in their ‘borrowed’ hot tub, Tybalt was greeting their first house guest. “Thanks for coming by, Jaiden.” Tybalt’s voice somehow held a softer quality when he talked with this particular girl. Obviously pleased to see him, she smiled, “So this is the house? I was wondering what you guys would be able to get together.” Jaiden looked from the house to him, “It looks really nice, but I’m surprised you’re willing to room with Mercutio again.”
  108. 108. “We had a bit of an epiphany between us.” Tybalt hesitated and added with uncharacteristic nervousness, “It made me realize that life is too short to spend it pleasing everyone else. It was time to start thinking for myself and figure out what I want out of life. Which is, uhm, why I called you, Jaiden. I was wondering if maybe you would, uhm..” Jaiden kept her expression mild as she raised her eyebrows expectantly, “Wondering if I what?” Mumbling the words quicker than he should have, he asked, “Do you want you go out with me?”
  109. 109. The answer she gave was an immediate, triumphant shout as she practically threw herself into his arms, “HELL YES!”
  110. 110. Above them on the balcony outside her room, Ainsley smiled and murmured, “About time.” The sliding doors to her bedroom opened as Puck stepped out, “What was that? Is everything okay?” Turning slightly to face him, she nodded, “That was the sound of everything being fine. Finally.” Tilting her head to regard him, she commented, “Seeing as there’s no blood on your hands, I’m guessing you decided not to kill Mercutio?” Puck’s mouth quirked into a lopsided smile, “Nah. If he can put up with Bo and she likes him enough to keep him around, they’re a well made match. I just wanted to keep him on his toes.”
  111. 111. “That’s horrible.” The words didn’t match the smile on her face as she stepped closer to him. Taking a step forward to close the distance between them, Puck slid his arms around her, “It’s a big brother’s job to be horrible.” He cocked an eyebrow at her, “Do you have any big brothers I need to worry about.” “Just one.” Rising up on her toes slightly, she brushed her lips against his, “But he’s not here right now.” That was all the invitation Puck needed.
  112. 112. Things progressed quickly from there, moving from the balcony into the bedroom, and then from the bedroom onto the bed. At one point, Puck stopped and looked down at her with an expression of wonder on his face. “What’s wrong?” Breathless, Ainsley looked up at him with the tiniest hint of worry. “I love you, Ainsley.” Puck murmured the words softly, saying them for the first time with a gentle reverence, “I don’t want to stop. I want to know you’re sure too...” Wrapping her arms around his neck to pull him back down to her, she smiled, “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. I love you.”
  113. 113. It was at that point that Puck officially became a resident of the house. No one realized that was the moment, but after the shared confession between the two, he wasn’t going anywhere. For the two of them, it was a beautiful first time together in what would be their first home.
  114. 114. “VO GERBITS!!” “Is that a cheerleader at the foot of the bed?” Puck cracked open one eye and looked to Ainsley. Barely containing a giggle, she nodded, “It is.” “Huh.” He nodded calmly and cuddled closer, “Interesting.” Interesting was probably a good word for what lay ahead for the two of them. ~-~-~-~ And this, my dear readers, is where we end Part 3.
  115. 115. “Whoa, it went in the net!” “I’m as shocked as you are.” ~-~-~-~ I want to apologize for how long this is taking me to get through this. Working fast is apparently not my forte. The pictures for Part 4 are mostly ready to go, so I am hoping to have that one written and up soon. After that, I will be pushing as fast and hard as I can to get Part 5, my planned finale, up for everyone. Until next time, Happy Simming!