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A/N: Prompt: Write/Wright/Right/Rite

Millennia

Even after two months at her new job and staying at an apartment with a completely new layout, Ellen still could not quite banish the nightmares. “I can’t simply write them down,” she complained to Cassandra over the phone one night. “You know what they say about jotting down your dreams.”

“That it will make them come true? That’s an urban legend,” Cassandra’s melodious voice scoffed at the other end of the line. “Besides if you say you dream of the past or some time before we were born, there is no harm that can still be done. “

Ellen sighed. “You’re right. I can’t believe I’m being bothered by the random firings of my brain.” Unlike her other friends, she had never been one to place too much importance on the subconscious or anything that sounded remotely occult. ‘So much that teachers used to say that I didn’t have any sort of imagination since I preferred numbers,’ she thought.

“Consider it a stress release,” Cassandra said cheerily. “A pensieve if you will.”

“Yes since you guys aren’t around to pester me out of silence.”

“Listening is more like it.”

“True,” Ellen said, glancing at the clock on her desk. To her dismay, the time read 6:50, a fact which was confirmed by the almost total absence of daylight in the window. “I’ve got to hang up in a bit. I have a meeting tonight,” she said apologetically.

“You mean a date?” Cassandra teased.

Ellen cringed, knowing that her former foster sister had caught on. “Nothing romantic. I’m just hanging out with one of the guys from the office.”

“Famous last words, Ellen,” Cassandra said. “Tell me more about it tomorrow, Elle.”

“Alright. Bye Cas,” Ellen said before the line clicked and went dead. She shook her head as she replaced the phone in its cradle. Even after all these weeks she still found it difficult to shake the sense that her friends were disappointed with her for abruptly leaving to take a job in another city. ‘Maybe because I never could give a proper reason for it,’ she thought as she went over to check her appearance one last time in a mirror. Then again perhaps there was no proper reason; it was impossible to say out loud that she had to get away from her ex-boyfriend, teach her former foster sister to stand on her own, and figure out the aggravating puzzle that was her best friend.

She could only hope that they would understand some day.

By the time Ellen found her purse and packed her keys, her phone, tissue, her wallet and a few other necessities, the clock read 6:55. ‘Theo better be on time,’ she thought as she sat on her convertible sofa. She bit her lip, remembering her dashing officemate’s reputation for unpunctuality; he’d even had the audacity once to show up late for a meeting involving their supervisor in the programming department. ‘Thirty minutes. That’s all I’m giving him,’ she resolved as she looked around for something to do. Since she had yet to get herself a television set, and she was not in the mood to reread a book or check her mail, she located a paper and a pen.

“Where do I begin?” she wondered aloud. The first word was always the most difficult one for her. Unlike most of her friends, who had the power of wit at their beck and call, she always struggled to string her thoughts together. ‘No one is going to read it,’ she reminded herself.

Unfortunately the first thing that came to mind was a poor take off on a lyric: ‘I wish I could say I loved you for a thousand years,’ she wrote down before quickly striking it out. She groaned as she looked at the ruined sheet. Not only was it cheesy and far too often linked to the fantasies of teenage girls, she knew that it simply wasn’t true; there was more than a millennium in her dreams. She tore off the top of the sheet before continuing:

Seeing all of you was déjà vu from the get-go. I guess I’ve always known that on some level we were destined to get along. I’m not sure how I know this; no one talked about it in the homes that I grew up in. I didn’t even think of any good explanation to it till I got to university. Even then the entire thing about past lives and all sounds weird, since one has to go through some hypnosis to access these things. The thing is I see things in dreams, times we never could have been to.

In my dreams, Cas, you are always my sister in some way. Not always by birth; we look too different for that. You’re always the one I meet first, in the same house, in the same school, the same sisterhood in some cases. You’re either my teacher or my fellow initiate. I don’t know why it sounds so much like a cult, but can I complain when I’ve dreamed us both as geishas in Kyoto, when I’ve curled up at your side in crowded barracks, when I lied to save you from the guards at Auschwitz? You did similar things for me too in dreams; you threw me a key to get out of a cell, you shared with me the last bit of bread many a time and again, and I think you’ve even looked me up on lists of missing persons. I guess these dreams are part of familiarity since we did literally grow up together from home to home.

Macky....what can I say to you, Macky? I always end up with you somehow, or wanting to end up with you. Yet I know that it’s always a stupid, crazy thing for you and me; like an ill fitting pair of shoes, like sandpaper on sandpaper. We look and act alike but it never goes right. I’m not just writing this because you’re my ex and I’m still mad that you never gave me back my quilt. You’re good for me in a way but it’s never quite what I need. Or even really want. You’re the one I see with me and Cas in various situations, but you’re not always brave enough to stay. You flee first, every single time, or someone has to nearly break his or her neck to save you. I don’t know why it’s that way, when I have seen that you’re usually so much braver and surer. Maybe you’re learning, if this is really a past life scenario.

Antoine, you’re the biggest problem I have there. I’m not sure why I always end up looking to you, maybe even liking you. Maybe more than liking you. You’re always the tragic one, the one who starts out brightest and yet ends with the most ignominy. You go with me down into the pit and never come out. It’s always that way. We end up missing each other a lot; I see you, you don’t see me. You love me and I marry someone else. You’re always a fighter (and I’m not saying that because of all the times you’ve stuck out for me). I guess I dream of you always in a battle or struggle because I’ve never seen you live life otherwise. Maybe that’s always how you’ve been---‘

Ellen put down her pen and buried her face in her hands. Would writing down what was on her mind somehow call down a particular fate on him? Yet it was all in the past. What harm could be done?

The clock read 7:03pm. She took a deep breath and picked up her pen again.

It’s either you watch me die, or I see you die. Why does it never change?’
"Whoever thought of this combination as a dessert was a culinary genius."
"Don't talk with your mouth full."
Anton wiped his lips before picking up a second cube of mozzarella and placing it atop a small chunk of pear. "How did you learn about it then?"
"I was very little," Ellen replied, curling up on the sofa. "Really little. Mama was still around."
Anton sighed as he held out the plate of cheese and fruit. "Still want to have some?"
"It was my idea, silly."
"I was just asking."
She reached out and swept all the cheese from the plate.
A//N: Prompt: Bulletproof

The Twelfth Time Around
Contrary to what everyone thought, Anton did remember every time he turned around the cosmos. Of course it was easy to argue that it didn't quite count, since his memory was only the sort that happened in fragments of dreams. 'There is a reason for everything though, a reason it keeps coming back,' he told himself over and over as he took a cautious sip from a piping hot cup of tea. He blinked at the steam that rose from the drink, as well as from the cloying odors of incense and perfume in the stuffy tent. He sincerely hoped that no one had seen him enter this place in the fairgrounds; the terms 'Antoine Enverga' and 'fortune-tellers' did not usually fit in the same sentence.

He looked up to meet the wry grin of the blue-haired young woman seated across the table. "You probably guessed that the tea is just a prop," Stella crooned. "Something to say, play by conventions."

"How will you read then?"

"You will be the one reading. I will merely put some....background to what you probably already know." One carefully plucked eyebrow arched upwards. "Are you afraid though?"

Anton shook his head, frowning when his blond hair fell in his eyes again. "Should I be?" Talking about it in daylight could not be any worse than the most terrifying of his nocturnal wanderings. 'Anyway I could always charge this venture to experience,' he thought, even if he knew that this was a defense that he could never use in any part of his future law practice.

Stella motioned for him to set down his teacup. "Tell me about the others."

"Who?"

"You know who they are. The first people you always think of."

It took all of Anton's fortitude not to cringe at the first three names that practically leaped into his mind as he nodded. "Two of them live with me. I think they finally got together." Sometimes he wondered how he had been so blind to the natural fit of his best friend Macky's blustering but innocent manners with the more gentle, sweet demeanor of his other friend, Cassandra. To be fair, it had been difficult to imagine it for as long as Macky had been in love with someone else for a very long time while Cassandra didn't seem interested in being pursued or at least openly eyeing someone. Now that it happened, he wondered how had the universe ever conspired to configure them otherwise.

Stella shrugged as she passed her fingers several inches over Anton's. "There is another?"

The young man nodded again, though this time it was more forced thanks to the effort of having to choke down some bile.  "She's in another city now."

"Ahhh, but she is the one you always remember. I saw how your face changed," Stella said with a grin. "You dream of her. All of them; you've all been following each other through time and space. As if there is something you wish to still do together." Her eyes were hooded now, as if she was deeply concentrating on something. "Tell me, Antoine---"

"Anton."

"Anton then. You've never been good with having thing literally thrown at you, huh?"

He smirked. "I was always a human target in any ball game."

"And yet you still get into all kinds of fights, bad enough for you to never reach the age of thirty. The other three are sometimes smarter. Sometimes," Stella said. Her hands had found now a paper and pen on the table. "First time around. Thermopylae, you were not even nineteen. You went with Leonidas, of course, and gladly took an arrow or two. She stayed at home naturally. She was your brother's wife, but she polished your shield before you left. Your brother was sick and lived to fight another day. Plataea. It must have been quite the encounter in Elysium, to find out you both died with the same woman's name on your lips?"

 Anton let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "That part, I do not remember."

"A mercy," Stella said. She shook as she tried to keep her pen on the paper. "Second time. You ended all of them. They were in Rome. Converts. You were a centurion. You raided the catacombs. She begged you to keep their secret---"

"I think I apologized," he blurted out. It had been dark in that dream, but there was still a flicker of light, enough at least to see the flash of her reddish tresses. That was something that never quite changed.

"Didn't quite cut it, young man. You can't apologize when watching at the Colosseum." Stella took a deeper breath. "You tried again to do better the third time. Your two friends did not fare well; you saw them die in the same hut. Her, you almost saved from the Aztec raiders. You yelled, and gave her time to run."

Anton flinched, feeling again the arrows that had pierced his back. This was one of the worse nightmares. "Did she make it?"

"You never checked the river after?"

"I think I need more of the tea," Anton murmured. "Stella---"

She shook her head. "Not in this century."

"Fine. How many times did we....the four of us....go around?"

"You're on the twelfth cycle. All of you."

Twelve. The number, one of his favorites, was now almost sickening to him. 'How many times can you let them down?' he wondered. Every dream had their eyes growing black with pain and their lips curling with reproach. Suddenly it was harder to breathe but he had to ask all the same. "What happened, the fourth time."

The tale spilled out rapidly. They had all been trapped in the lesser known side of the Crusades. They'd tried to run to Saladin but the rope they'd used for their escape had gotten cut at the last moment. The fifth time around, they were in Granada at the height of the Inquisition. True to form, he was getting fruit and other things in the face as he waited for his turn at the auto-da-fe. She had been beautiful and haughty as she'd watched him burn.

The sixth time almost had him laughing as Stella recounted it. "No hope. Two geishas, two samurais. The only way out would have been dishonorable. But you were never one for dishonor," she said, shaking her head. She waved her hands and paled as she looked at him again. "The seventh time though. 1793. What on earth got into you and her then, I will never know.'

"The guillotines," he admitted. The sickening crash of that metal blade meeting a human neck was a sound that haunted him in the deepest recesses of his waking mind. "I fought for the Revolution then..."

"You were condemned to death by your own mentor. For saving your emigre, royalist kinsman. She, she saw you. Of course she did, she was one of those guillotine harpies. At least she had a decency to cry for a brave soul. Your other friend was a mother, wandering about in search of her children. No matter, the three eventually all kissed heads in the guillotines' baskets. You all made a mess of it, not reaching Napoleon's time."

"Buonaparte," Anton corrected. He frowned, wondering how this sage could speak of the Terror and that Corsican so casually.

"How true to form," Stella said, clucking her tongue. "The eighth round. Oh everyone knows of the eighth round."

Anton's hands tightened into fists. "The 1830s."

Stella smiled grimly. "You had it in your head then to change the world. All she wanted was a little hope or something better. Poor girl, not born to be ugly. Unfortunately you and her....the two of you aren't bulletproof. It would have been useful in that decade of riots. Her, dead at seventeen in the street with a single bullet. You, just short of twenty-six, with eight bullets in you while you were pinned up against a wall. Your other two friends were lucky. They lived through the fighting, they were saved in their own ways by the same saint. They lived to tell your stories, as best as they could."

The blond's face twisted with displeasure. "I never knew her name."

"Your loss. She was as passionate as you are." Stella chided. "I wish you'd learned your lessons---at least in the next round. 1890s.  The Philippine Revolution this time.This time, you knew her. You found her on a battlefield. She had no last name, and you gave yours to her when you buried her the day before independence was proclaimed."

"And the others?"

"Not so lucky. Your best friend was imprisoned on the first night of the revolt. His sweetheart died attacking a garrison---please, it's a sordid tale, do you really want to talk about it now? You died at the hands of your former allies, those Americans who claimed to help but they bought the country anyway. "

Anton felt his stomach churn at this historical travesty. "The next time, I think was in the Second World War."

"Ah, you cannot forget that. You knew she was in the Resistance too?" Stella asked

"I suspected. Different cell maybe," Anton admitted. It was an image he liked to cherish during the day, a glimpse of a girl about his age, with an impish smile she liked to hide under her auburn hair and a black beret. She would whistle the Marseilles when she saw him, almost as if daring him to speak to her.

"She knew that in that lifetime, you were called Julien."

"I wish she'd asked. It might have made Belsen a little more bearable."

"She knew better than to." Stella's face grew sad. "Your eleventh time is rather unforgivable though, Anton. 1968 and some time after. You might even be able to find articles on it."

Anton buried his face in his hands. Those nightmares were the worst of all since they were far too close to the present day for comfort. He could almost see it again in his waking vision: the cars, the police turning the demonstrations into riots, his classmate collapsing face-first on the asphalt, other friends trying to pull him up, and her screaming at him for putting them all in danger before the first gunshots rang out. The pain was like fire in his midsection now. "She didn't have to follow..."

Stella let go of her pen and buried her face in her sleeve. Her eyes were glistening as she looked at him again. "You all choose to. You tell me why. You know what you all see."

"It's fate."

"There is no red string, Anton. I don't think you even really like to be called that."

'It's only because almost everyone mispronounces 'Antoine',' he thought with a wry smile. "I can't tell them about what I dream about," he finally said. "They....Ellen especially, wouldn't want to know."

"That's her name?" Stella asked. "How....fitting."

"You aren't going to offer to tell the future or something?" Anton asked skeptically. His hand itched to reach for his phone to call her, to ask how she was doing. However something stayed his fingers. "Can't you tell me what happens next?"

"Twelve times is more than enough for you to know what to do." She sighed and put away the paper and pen. "I'll let this go, free of charge. Just don't get yourself killed. You can look me up when you both turn thirty."

"Why?"

"I'd like to see how a cycle looks when it's broken."

Anton nodded slowly. "Thank you." 
Departure

"You can pack up but you're not getting out that door, I'm sure of it."
Ellen glared at Cas. "You don't know that."
"Oh please, we've all threatened to walk out on each other before. That never happens because we're too tied together."
"Tie? I thought that knots mean marriage."
"No, splicing means marriage. Interweaving. Two wires becoming one." The blonde grinned at Ellen's aghast expression. "You never thought of it that way?"
"No."
"We're four separate things that are drawn together. It works."
"I hate your analogies, Cas," Ellen muttered as she picked up her suitcase and walked out.
Detachment
The necklace was the prettiest and the geekiest thing I had ever seen. There was a piece of amber as big as my fingernail in the middle of it, surrounded by nine silver chains. Each chain had a smaller, different colored stone: a gray quartz, a piece of topaz, then an emerald, then a ruby, and then a large yellow jasper. The outer loops had a tiger’s eye quartz, an aquamarine, a sapphire, and a very tiny bit of opal. It was the perfect little model of the solar system.

“Has it ever occurred to you that everything is merely a satellite of the sun?” Lawrence asked me when he dropped by and saw me cleaning up the necklace. “I mean, just look at what you’ve got.”

“You can argue everything is a satellite of everything. Every object has gravity,” I said. He really had a habit of coming in at the most inconvenient times, such as during delicate cleaning operations. It didn’t help that he was unshaven and wearing what had to be yesterday’s sweat suit, judging by its wrinkled state.I cursed when my cleaning rag nearly snagged against one of the stones. “What do you want? The fridge is unlocked, help yourself.”

“Too early for beer,” he said as he sat down across the coffee table. “Where are the others?”

“Cas is doing an overtime shift, the guys still have classes,” I muttered. “Move your butt out of there, I need the light.”

Lawrence didn’t budge but he got his little flashlight keychain out of his pocket and trained the beam on the necklace. “Sorry, this is a comfortable spot.”

“Will you please go bug someone else?” I asked. He was eating into what little time I still could have for myself after a horrible work week, and I wasn’t up to entertaining seven feet of trouble that came in the form of a six footer man. “I mean it, you either shut up, get out, or I am going to ban you from coming.”

Thankfully Lawrence took the hint and scooted off to the kitchen. He at least had the consideration to return with two cans of beer. He must have gotten through half his can of beer in one gulp before he spoke again. “You made up your mind yet?”
All I had left to do was to polish the clasp, so I no longer had the urge to fling anything at him. “About what?” I asked.

“Staying or going?” He drained the rest of his beer and then burped. “You have a nice place here and it’s kind of a shame to give it up because of a break-up.”

“You have no idea how awkward and messed up it is,” I muttered as I put down the necklace and reached for the other beer. Actually there was an answer to that question, but it was not for him to hear, at least at this point about it.

He snickered. “Tell me about it.”

I nodded. “Macky was my friend before we got together; yeah getting together was the big mistake. Before that it was fine, just the four of us living together.”

“Was it?”

“In my defense, I was nineteen and hormonal,” I muttered. In those days it seemed like getting a place with Macky, as well as with my foster sister and another friend, was a convenient idea. At least the arrangement lasted all of three years before Macky and I had the falling out to end all falling outs. That had been a month ago.

“Elle, you know that men and women can’t just be friends. There’s already a movie about that,” Lawrence drawled. He crushed the top of his can. “You can’t say that you’re only sticking around because of Cassandra. You girls are capable of packing up and fending for yourselves anywhere.”

“She works near here, and so do I,” I said. “We like the convenience.”

“Yeah but come on, you can get an apartment that’s smaller but just as accessible to your usual places,” Lawrence pointed out.
“Her call too, not mine.” Cas was my foster sister, my rock, better than family to me. I’d never do anything to inconvenience her.

“It’s better than you and Macky sort of doing the moon and the sun dance, never meeting but somehow in each other’s space.”

“The moon and the earth dance,” I corrected him before I put on the necklace. The clean metal felt warm against my skin, but there was a strange coolness to the stones.

Lawrence snorted. “Same difference.” He looked around as the apartment door opened. “Hey Anton, I ate your dinner again,” he greeted.

“You didn’t. You never line your stomach,” Anton said as he set down his satchel at its usual place near the door. Even if he’d probably walked all the way from the law school, he still looked maddeningly fresh, or at least less dirty than he should have. Not a single strand of his dark blond hair was out of place. He nodded to me. “That necklace suits you, Ellen.”

“It’s a solar system. Can you see it?” I asked as I pulled back my hair.

“Not from this distance....now I get it. Nine levels and a center,” Anton said with a grin. “Did you check the amber for fossils?”

“No. It’s as clear as....” I was about to say ‘crystal’ but I shook my head. I watched Lawrence moved off the coffee table and went to pester Anton. If Cas was my rock, Anton was everyone else’s rock, even Macky’s. He was the one who introduced us actually; Macky was his tutee in college. I guess one could say he was also a rock for me too; he was the one who kept the sanity in this weird little apartment. He was perhaps the only reason Lawrence liked to come around.

After a while, Lawrence went to get more beer and empty the fridge. I went over to where Anton was reading. He put down his case file and pulled up a chair for me. “Rough day?”

“It always is a rough day,” I said. “By the way, I’ve been looking at places.”

One of his eyebrows almost reached his hairline. “Where?”

“Out of the city. I’ve been eyeing some job placements too; programmers are always in demand around here,” I admitted. I saw the troubled look that came in his eyes and I took a deep breath. “I have to do this. I need to start again.”

“This isn’t just about Macky, isn’t it?”

“No.” I almost felt bad about what I was going to have to say. “It’s about you and Cas too.”

Any other guy might have been angry, but this was Anton. He nodded as he put his hands on the table. “Go on.”

“Cas and I are practically sisters, you’ve known me since I was fourteen. We’re like the Three Musketeers, I guess, but from the wrong side of the city,” I said. Those days in the ‘skid road’ of Cordoba City seemed so long ago, but there were times like this when I could almost smell the gutter slime all over again. “That was how it was before you know, Macky and I got together. Then I became part of a duo instead of part of a trio. You get what I’m saying?”

“You’re alone for the first time,” he said.

“Yeah. I sort of need to figure out what that means. Who on earth is Ellen Thompson when she’s not with Antoine, Cas, and Marcus?”

“Sounds like a game show title!” Lawrence catcalled from the kitchenette.

“Lawrence, there’s still some baked macaroni in the freezer,” Anton shouted back. “No one’s planning to eat it anyway.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, even as I looked from the kitchenette, and at the rest of this apartment’s common room. Everything here was a ‘blob’ of ‘ours’; sure we had our own books and knick-knacks, but on the whole it was a general mess of things that at least two of us had in common. How much could I really call ‘my own’ anyway?

Anton nodded to me again. “When?”

“A month. Sorry, I know it will make life hard with the rent.”

“I understand. It’s no issue, really,” he said with a wave of his hand.

I shook my head. “You sound a bit...”

“Surprised,” he finished. “I know you can take care of yourself, Ellen, but you’ve never done this before.”

“I know. I’ll have to clean up my own mess, you’ll have to live without my cooking.”

“I keep a directory of every burger place in town,” he deadpanned.

“You’ll be broke in a month,” I said as I shoved his shoulder.  I sighed as I saw Lawrence saunter up with the tray of macaroni and three paper plates. “Okay, cat’s out of the bag. I have to get out of here.”

Anton eyed the plates. “No liquid? I’ll run down and get some soda. Don’t start without me,” he said as he got his wallet.

“See you later!” Lawrence called. He waited for Anton to shut the door before he began laughing. “You two ought to run away together.”

“Lawrence, haven’t you heard anything I said?” I asked.

“Have you ever looked at Anton?”

It should have been a normal question, but nothing was normal with Lawrence, especially with the way he wiggled his eyebrows. “That’s delusional,” I scoffed.

“Perfect sense. I know you both. You’re like magnets,” Lawrence said. “Stuck together since forever; Three Musketeers my foot, Cas was the third wheel till Macky came along.”

“No....”

“You can’t help being around him, it’s gravity as you said.”

“Shut up!”

Lawrence shook his head. “Apogee and perigee. Ever heard of that?

Those terms were vaguely familiar. “Enlighten me.”

“Parts of the orbit, the nearest and furthest part of the ellipse. You’re going to spiral out, go far away. Then you’ll come back here. Sort of an orbit, huh?” he said, gesturing to my necklace. “What will you with that then?”

“I’m not going to be a stranger.” I was going to visit. I was planning to keep in touch.

He smirked. “You’ll be back for someone. Two guesses. One of them isn’t Cas.”

I might have yelled at him for it if Anton hadn’t returned then with the soda. Anton glanced from me to Lawrence. “Did I miss the soap opera again?”

“Not at all,” I muttered. I couldn’t look him in the eye now, not after what Lawrence said. It would be a long time before I ever could.
 
A/N: Prompt: Pumpkin

Knife-work

"So it was your girlfriend who carved that jack-o-lantern?"
"For the last time, Ellen is not my girlfriend, she's Macky's."
Lawrence whistled as he surveyed the swirls and starry patterns on the pumpkin. "She's got great skill with a knife. How do you boys get a wink of sleep?"
"Simple: do not tick Ellen off, don't hurt Macky, don't leave the shower a mess," Anton replied, rescuing the pumpkin.
"The shower?"
"Yeah, the shower. We have two here, but she swears ours reeks."
Lawrence whistled again. "Guess I'm not moving in any time soon."
"If you value your skin, yes."

Apr. 26th, 2013

Staycation

"Living with you is like walking on eggshells."
A blanket rustled, revealing a disheveled head of mousy hair. "Shhh. Don't remind me."
"We have to talk about it---"
"You're too noisy Macky. One more peep, you're out of the room."
"Cas..."
A pillow sailed across the room, hitting Macky in the face. "Seriously, what part of a stay-cation don't you understand?"
He laughed and flopped down on the bed. "It's just an excuse to sleep in."
"Keep quiet longer."
"Dream for a few more minutes."
Macky frowned, knowing better than to trust in nocturnal wanderings. "Whatever floats your boat then."

Apr. 16th, 2013

Health Hazards

"You only noticed her because she was the only girl who even knew what a naval shanty was."
Peter only smirked wryly, knowing he couldn't exactly deny the accusation. "Claude, you don't meet a girl like Torie every day. Besides I think we would have become friends, eventually."
"A very long eventually," Claude said dryly as he laid out some alcohol-soaked pads, scissors, tape, gauze, and a long piece of silk attached to a curved needle. "Need I say that it is an 'eventually' that is proving hazardous to your health?"
"She's not going to kill me."
"She'll leave you with a collection of scars. What the hell do you think you are doing, living in the 19th century navy?"
"Maybe you ought to take up plastic surgery so you can fix me up."
Claude gave his friend a filthy look. "Next time you and Torie get into one of your fights, you can just stitch each other up. Now hold still; you already know this is going to hurt."
A/N: Prompt: Dawn. 430 words


Someone Has Got to Do It

No matter what way Ellen rehashed it, it sometimes seemed that she and her friends would always be 'the kids that got out of the wrong part of Cordoba City'. "Someday you've got to stop thinking of yourself as just that," she chided herself as she threaded an old, but clean pair of red shoelaces through her sneakers. She knew that it was odd to have shoelaces that matched the color of her hair, but she wouldn't have it any other way.
She looked up at the sound of her bedroom door opening. "Thought you'd be out of here by now, Macky," she drawled. Of course she knew that her boyfriend had no real intention of leaving the flat that they shared with two other friends, but it was always fun to tease him about each time he threatened to do so.
"Can't pay the rent elsewhere. Besides, you're still here," Macky said as he threw himself on their bed. "I don't know why you still stick around, Elle. Around them, I mean, not me."
"You know perfectly well why. Cas is like my sister."
"And Anton?"
Ellen shrugged as she untwisted a kink in her right shoelace. They had this discussion far too many times before, and yet the point never seemed to drill through Macky's skull. It seemed that for as long as their roommate insisted on his life as part time law student and part time unofficial journalist that this would always be an issue. "I know you think he's batty. Sometimes I do too. But someone has to do the dreaming for all four of us."
The raven-haired man rolled his eyes. "He doesn't even have the hard-knock story that you and Cas do. He's never lived in foster care, lost his parents, gotten kicked out, or gone through---"
"Macky, shut up! Please!"
He sighed as he looked at her, with her hands clapped now over her ears. "Sorry Elle. I know you don't want me to talk about it...."
She nodded. It hurt enough to remember the past, more so to hear it from someone else. "I wish it was a dream. A dream that disappears at daybreak. But you've seen the scars. You've seen how Cas' back looks."
"So why does Anton have to care?" Macky asked, sitting up on the bed.
"I s'pose because like you, he believes we all deserve better."
"Does it have to be him?"
Ellen smiled before scooting over to him to stroke his hair. "If not him, then who? You? Me? We're not yet strong enough for that."
A/N: Prompt: Cliff. Officially making this part of my ‘canon’ for a new story I have in the works. 130 words

How to be Released From a Promise

"Just because Mr. Salvador gave you the password, that doesn't mean it has to be you!"
"Do you think I want it? I have no choice!"
A furious brown gaze met a similarly steely blue one. "This is the first time I'm ever calling you 'selfish'. You think that Elle, Cas, and I will agree to this?"
"I never asked you to agree, I just want you to know."
"That you're going to what, now be leading a sort of seditious cell? I don't even know what you do when you're not in class, work, or here. Why you go off to heaven knows where even when it's your turn to take charge of things around here. Why you've been studying ciphers and military tactics."
"You've been snooping."
"You left your door open. I was worried you were doing drugs." The shorter man laughed and shook his head. "You've got beliefs but they're going to kill you. And us."
Anton wiped his brow. "Macky, I'm not even going to hold you to the promises that we have with the girls to back each other up. I don't expect you too. But at least stop talking like I'm leading you over a cliff or something."
"By taking over from where a wanted man left off, you are." Macky threw his keys down on the table. "I paid my share of the rent for this month. I'll be back for my things."