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11 March 2010 @ 08:42 am
Julien, Sabrielle, Jackson, Rene  
Log. Thursday, March 04, 2010. [NYC] Beacon: Julien's Apartment.

Understated opulence claims this spacious and well-kept three-bedroom apartment, the decor throughout the whole of it of the highest quality and carefully chosen. The front door opens onto the entrance hall, a closet close at hand to receive coats and shoes -- the pale hardwood floors gleam underfoot, unsullied by tracked-in mess from outside. The living room beyond the entrance is all dark woods and pale earth tones, comfortable couches and armchairs and a thick soft rug laid down beneath. A large and painstakingly aquascaped aquarium stands against one wall, with several brightly coloured species of fish within. Most of the rest of the wall space, notably, is taken up with shelves -- shelves crammed with books of every subject and genre. Through a doorway lies the kitchen which, in contrast, is sleek and modern and well-appointed, stocked by someone who takes their cooking seriously. And takes their alcohol equally seriously -- to one side of the kitchen there is a fully-stocked bar.

Julien's bedroom, in contrast to the paler, earthy scheme outside, is warm and rich, decorated in deep reds. The exquisitely crafted furniture is dark, with reddish undertones to the mahogany wood. The king-sized bed is stocked with an overabundance of pillows, and more cushions rest in the windowseat. One wall holds a spacious walk-in closet. A table, low to the ground, sits on a thick rug between the bed and the entrance, the right height for kneeling rather than chairs; the checked pattern carved into its surface marks it as a chessboard, though the pieces are not in evidence. The bathroom connects both to the bedroom and to the living room; it is large, done in black marble, with an overly spacious glass-walled shower and a similarly large jacuzzi bathtub.

The other two bedrooms, in strange departure from the rest of the apartments style, seem decorated more with younger occupants in mind. One of them, styled largely in purples and blues, has a pair of twin beds with matching butterfly-patterned bedspreads and a similar fabric for the window curtains; a wealth of stuffed toys is neatly arranged on both. The other is very green, its bedspread green-and-black striped; the walls are covered with a host of movie posters. Also oddly, they are both painfully well-kept -- with no personal belongings in sight, they hardly seem lived in at all.

Julien is working, currently -- not the sort he gets paid for, but the sort he /enjoys/. There is a large mug of tea steeping on the counter in the kitchen, and he is in the living room, dressed comfortably in jeans and a long-sleeved knit shirt. Its sleeves have been rolled up so they do not get wet as he carefully works on cleaning the glass walls of the large aquarium in his living room. New plants are sitting ready to introduce to the tank, and a few new fish swim in large plastic bags as well, currently resting on the couch as he prepares their new home. He is very particular about this -- arranging things very exactly, this rock /just/ here, that plant /just/ there, scrutinizing the effect with a careful eye as he does.

Sunset could say she had learned her lesson with last time, but it wouldn’t quite be so. If she /had/, she would most likely know better than to return to Julien’s apartment. This time, however, she /did/ call ahead, which will hopefully be a point in her favor. Dressed in dark jeans and a simple form fitting black sweater, Sunset takes a moment to run a hand through her hair, wanting to make sure that she at least looks presentable before knocking on the door.

Julien pulls his hand out of the water, slow and careful so as not to disturb the fish already in the tank any more than he has to. There is a hand towel draped over his shoulder, and he starts wiping his arm dry as he heads to open the door. His smile is as blandly pleasant as if, you know, he had /not/ hurt Sunset painfully on their last encounter. "Sunset. Good morning." There's something tired around his eyes despite the easy smile. He gestures her in, his arm still a little damp. "Tea?" The apartment is warm with the smell of something baking, too.

“Tea would be wonderful.” Stepping into the apartment, Sunset takes a moment to slip off her shoes while look over the multiple fish and aquarium paraphernalia. Turning to face Julien, she takes note of the tired look, but doesn’t bring it up just yet. “This isn’t exactly a social visit. I wanted to talk to about what happened the last time I visited.” And hopefully this one would not end up the same.

Julien's head tilts in faint acknowledgment as he closes and locks the door, but that is all. He lets out a quiet breath and slips away into the kitchen, turning the flame back on beneath the kettle. He gets out a second mug, filling it with hot water while he waits for the kettle to boil.

Leaning against the doorframe to the kitchen, Sunset worries at her bottom lip with her teeth for a short pause before speaking again. “My best guess is that you’re upset with me about something. And considering that – If you’ll excuse my assumption, Julien. – I am perhaps the only person you can call a friend, I would venture a guess to say that the reason you’re upset involves the fact that I somehow managed to get past your defenses, and worm my way into your life.” Taking a deep breath, she lets it out in a sigh before continuing. “And /then/, I had the absolute sheer audacity to go and die. And even though that wasn’t my fault in any way, shape, or form, you’re still upset with me. Correct?”

Julien's jaw tightens. He -- does not answer Sunset. Instead, he gets an oven mitt, and goes to the oven, whose timer is ticking down from ten seconds. He switches the timer off before it has a chance to beat, and opens it to withdraw a tray full of fresh scones. He sets these down on the stove next to the kettle -- which, having been heated so recently anyway, is already starting to boil. He does not need to ask Sunset which tea is her favorite. He has it stocked. He also does not ask her how she takes it. He remembers. He is silent as he prepares it.

“Julien.” His name comes out as part exasperated sigh, part stubborn scoff. “I came here to /apologize./ Though, if you want my honest opinion, as sincere as my apology is, I don’t see why I should have to apologize for something I couldn’t control. Yet... If it will get you to actually talk to me like you used to, it won’t bother me too much to do so.”

"You have nothing to apologize for," Julien replies crisply. "You could hardly help dying."

And yet.

He is still quiet, tense, as he hangs up the oven mitt, getting a pair of small square plates from his cabinet. "Scone?" he offers. "Lemon-ginger."

Sunset frowns now, shaking her head. “That isn’t all I’m apologizing for.” She retorts, sounding a bit annoyed now. And she ignores his offer for a scone. Rude, perhaps, but it would just be a distraction from the current conversation.

"What are you apologizing for, then?" Julien finishes preparing both cups of tea, and sets one down beside Sunset. He leans against the counter, cradling his cup in long fingers.

Picking up her own cup, she lets the warmth of it seep into her fingers before she takes a sip. After a long pause, she finally answers. “For becoming your friend. I think that you aren’t very happy with the fact that I know so much about you, or that I trust you. And I do still trust you. It will take more than a little pain to get rid of me, if you even can.”

Julien lets out a slow breath, eyes focusing down into his tea. "I have frankly no idea why you trust me, still. I have hardly proven myself trustworthy." His eyebrows knit together, and when he looks up there is something mildly (very mildly!) offended in his gaze. "And it was a lot of pain. I must be getting soft. Here, if I could just try --" He holds a hand out to Sunset.

"I've had worse. It was a different kind of pain, but it was worse." She softly answers, glancing toward his outstretched hand. For a moment, there's a temptation to take it, just to prove that she /does/ still trust him. But after what happened last time, it would be a stupid idea, and Sunset does not like looking stupid. Taking another sip of tea, the redhead gives a slow shrug.

"I cannot tell you why I trust you, Julien. Perhaps it's because you are one of my few friends. Perhaps it's because you've let me into parts of your life that you could have easily kept me out of, though I doubt it's as simple as that. Or perhaps it's because I can mostly understand your reasoning behind your actions. But I do, and it's something you're just going to have to deal with."

"Do you?" Something sharp, bladed, glitters just behind the calm mask of Julien's face, his green eyes fixing with keen interest on Sunset's face. His voice is low, but far from soft. "What is it that you understand?" His hand falls back to his side, fingers curling slow into a loose fist, then flexing again.

Meeting his gaze, Sunset's expression stays calm, almost blank as she takes another drink from her cup. He isn't happy, but she didn't expect to arrive here, or even leave with him happy with her. She simply came to speak her part, and have that be that. "You let me in. You trusted me with your life story, and your secrets. And then I left you. When I came back, I expected everything to be the same, and I had no right to. I even took liberties I had no right to take. I came over without calling, and I interrupted a session you had with a client. And the fact that I acted like nothing was wrong in the first place... You lashed out. And I don't blame you for it."

Glancing down to her cup, Sunset gives another sigh. "Of course... That is just a theory. It would not surprise me if I was wrong." And the fact that she can admit that says something.

Julien takes a long slow sip of his tea, eyes steady on Sunset over the rim of his cup. "You were gone a long time," he says, soft and mild. "You were not yourself when you came back, and who is to say I was the same person, either? A lot can happen. A lot can change." His head bows, and he straightens from his lean, moving to put a pair of scones on each plate. He offers one to Sunset.

Watching him carefully, it’s a moment before she’s reaching out to take one of the plates. Her last visit /has/ made her wary, but Sunset doesn’t think he would just outright grab her. “I /am/ sorry, Julien. If I could go back and change everything, I would. I never wanted to leave like that.”

Julien doesn't grab her. He doesn't do anything but offer the plate, and then take his own back to where he has been leaning. His expression is tired, and his voice tireder. "The past is the past," he says, something oddly wry in the quirk of his lips as he says this, "and we can't change that."

“I would change it if I could, Julien.” Her answer is soft, before she puts down her plate and cup. Taking a step closer to him, Sunset watches him closely, obviously trying to decide something. “I am wondering... how unintelligent it would be to offer you a hug.”

Julien lets out a slow breath that is not quite laughter. "Very," he says, dryly.

“Pity. I give excellent hugs.” She answers, just as dry, as she moves back to pick up her scone and tea.

Julien's lips twitch, faintly. "Some things do not change, then."




Log. Saturday, March 06, 2010. [NYC] Chateau Noir: Warren and Sunset’s Apartment.

It’s not too late into the morning, though Warren has already left to go to work, and Sunset’s taken it on herself to get the kitchen cleaned up after breakfast. Hey, if he has to cook all the meals, she might as well clean up after them. Music plays from the living room, and the open landscape of the apartment lets it flow into the kitchen easily enough. Up to her elbows in suds and warm water, the redhead doesn’t look a bit put off by the task, instead humming slightly along with the music under her breath.

There's another redhead, humming as she breezes on up to Warren's apartment. A pretty blue dress under a matching blazer, red hair pulled back with combs. Light touches of makeup, doing her best to present a pretty, put together picture. Knocking on the door, humming becoming a whistling.

The fact that Sabrielle knocks without calling anything through the door (Oz.), or doesn’t try to /kick/ the door down (Angie.), gives Sunset a pause as she looks up, brow furrowed slightly in thought. Hm. Wiping her arms and hands off with a nearby dish towel, she’s padding for the door on bare feet, peeking through the peephole before unlocking the door and opening it. “Good morning! You’re in an awfully good mood.”

"What's not to be in a good mood for?" Sabs smiles, offering Sunset a single red rose she picked up on her way over, tied with a white ribbon. "Nice mornin', had a good breakfast. Havin' a good hair day, your brother proposed to me.."

Taking the rose with a raised eyebrow, Sunset takes a moment to admire it, grinning. “Yes, well-“ She starts to reply, before she splutters to a halt, that last item finally sinking in. “/What?/” It’s not a shriek, exactly, but it is surprised, and a bit high pitched. “And he didn’t tell – I’m going to /kill/ him.”

Sabrielle laughs. "He only asked me last night. Can't blame him for not callin' ya right up, when we were up ta...other things." There's a wicked gleam in the empath's eyes for a moment, holding out her left hand. "Something else Ah need to tell you...no freakin' out on me, okay? Ah uh... Ah'm pregnant, Sunny. "

Giving an indignant snort, Sunset mutters something about how he could have at least let her help ring shop before bending over to look at the ring. There's a moment of extreme approval as she brings her own hand up to grab at Sabrielle's hand to look even closer… but Sunset pauses just before contact is made at her last words, tensing.

Feeling her stomach drop, there's a rush of cold throughout her body as a flood of emotions nearly overwhelms her. A lot of sorrow, a lot of pain, jealously, and a small hint of anger before it's all gone, pushed down. Guilt rushes through her in the aftermath. "...That's great, Sabs. Really great." If anything, she manages to sound happy. Ecstatic, even.

"Ah know it's a lot for you, Ah'm so sorry, Sunset.. Ah..." Sabrielle moves to take a seat, a deep breath in, eyes on the floor. "Ah don't know who the father is, though."

Following Sabrielle into the apartment, after closing the door and locking it behind her, Sunset sets the rose down on one of the end tables before taking a seat herself. Hands clasped together, she has to stop herself from tightening her grip to the point of it being painful. “There’s nothing to apologize for. At least, you shouldn’t be the one apologizing.” Sunset murmurs, before looking at Sabrielle. “And that’s... easily fixed, once a few months have gone by. Do you know how far along you are?”

"Ah am sorry. Ah know how badly that makes you feel, that...an' here Ah am..not even thinkin'.." Eyes lift from the floor. "Ah dunno for sure. Ah mean Andy an' Ah were always careful, but ya know that doesn't mean anythin'. Ozzie...he was so happy until Ah pointed out it might not be his. He...he's told me it doesn't matter, Ah'm his so the baby is too."

“You’ll need to get a good doctor... I’d give you the name of the one I used, but considering...” Mumbling to herself now, Sunset rises to walk into the kitchen, rustling around to find newspaper article that she had been sure to save. Returning after a quick moment, she sits again, reading over it one more time, before handing it over to Sabrielle. “Considering your powers, this might be a better option. And did that surprise you, that Oz offered that?”

"Considerin'?" Sabs asks curiously, watching Sunset move. Taking the article, a glance over it. "My...Ah'd never thought about it. My powers an' a doctor that is all right with...if he knew." Looking up. "A little. Ah mean...he got a lil' jealous over Andy. Ah just...Andy's not happy about it. He's worried about me, though."

“It’s a clinic just for mutants. I think it might be the best bet for you, at least until you’re into your second trimester and out of the, ah... danger zone.” Brow furrowing, Sunset lightly rubs at her forehead for a moment. “He’s not happy about the fact that you’re pregnant, or the fact that you’re not sure whose it is?”

"Not happy Ah'm pregnant. He says he's not a kid sorta guy." A hand up through her hair. "He's just worried about me miscarryin' again, Ah think. He... he wants to know if it is his, but... he apologized for the way we fought. He... he's afraid to be near me for too long. Afraid he'll do somethin' dumb like kiss me."

“Considering how very possessive Oz is, that’s not a large surprise. Especially with his powers, though I doubt that is common knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with him being smart, certainly.” Hands running through her own hair, Sunset gives a sigh, standing again to head to the kitchen once more. “Do you want some tea?”

"He hasn't met Oz, hasn't talked to Oz. Ah wanted them to meet, but Andy wouldn't." Sabs shrugs. "It's just... meh. He says it would make him a hypocrite to be mad at me for Oz, if he can't keeps his hands to himself." A shake of her head. "Some water, though?"

“Well, you have to admit that he has a point with that.” Grabbing Sabrielle a bottle of water from the fridge, Sunset offers it up before returning to her dishes, just to have something to do with her hands. “And I would hold off on them meeting, until you’re absolutely sure it won’t end in bloodshed. Do you think it’s to that point?”

Sabrielle takes it silently, opening the bottle to take a long swallow. "He does. But it means he doesn't totally hate me, either. Which is a plus." Arching an eyebrow at Sunset, a tip of her head. "Ah just have to keep myself between them. Andy's not a fighter, really. Ah don't think they would, if Ah asked nice.”

Sunset gives a noncommittal noise in response, lapsing into thought as she works on scrubbing off a skillet. After a long moment that would have been quiet if it weren’t for the sound of dishes being washed, the redhead speaks up. “Are you bringing both of them with you on doctor’s visits until you know, or just Oz?”

Sabrielle stares at Sunset for a moment. "Ah hadn't thought about bringing either of them with me, much less /both/. Bad enough Ah admit to us that know me, that Ah don't know who the father is. Ah don't need the doctor an' all judgin' me."

“You don’t think they might want to be there, though?” Sunset questions. “Maybe not for the simple things like check ups, but the ultrasounds and everything. Though I don’t see Oz just letting you go alone, whether you really want him there or not. He’s going to strive to be everything his father wasn’t, starting with you.”

"Ah'll ask Andy, but he said himself he's not much of a kid person. Ah told him Ah wasn't askin' him for anythin'...just that he should know, just in case. Oz...maybe he won't let me go alone, Ah dunno. Ozzie... he's stubborn enough to make me let him come along. He told me the kid would be his...even if he admitted he hopes it is his, that he might not love it as much if..." Another shrug. "Sunset, Ah loved them both, an' they'd both make such pretty babies. Is it wrong Ah don't care, so long as Ozzie still loves me?"

“No, it’s not. Though, I don’t see Oz loving the child less just because they don’t share DNA. DNA doesn’t make family... If I know anything, I know that.” Rinsing off a plate, Sunset takes her time drying it, brow furrowed in thought. “But there’s nothing wrong with not caring who the father is. I don’t see you or Oz loving it any less simply based on that outcome.”

"Ah...Ah'm not fortune teller, Sunset. Ah know, logically, there's a chance it is Andy's. Just because. But Ah..." A deep breath, water set down on the counter. "It's Oz's. Not just because he'll love it, claim it as his no matter what. Not just because he an' Ah never thought about condoms the night he came back to me. There's some voice in the back of my head that says it's Ozzie's."

For the first time since Sabrielle broke the news about being pregnant, Sunset fully looks at the other woman, a small smile on her lips. “Mother’s intuition. You’ll learn to never doubt that.”

"But Ah...Ah can't just say that, an' have it be taken as word. By Oz or Andy. Just...something tells me it's Oz's. The reason Ah don't think it's just fanciful thinkin' is that it's a little sad, when Ah listen to it."

“You... don’t want it to be Oz’s?”

"Of course Ah do. But that doesn't mean Ah don't love Andy, just because Oz is back. Or that part of me wouldn't want to have Andy's baby either. Part of me wishes Ah could do that." Sabrielle whispers, a look of shame.

“There’s no need to look ashamed about that, Sabrielle. There’s nothing wrong with loving two people, or wanting to be with them both, no matter what ‘society’ tells you. At one point in time, I knew a girl who not only had a girlfriend, but two boyfriends that also dated each other. Have you... talked to them about that possibility?”

"Ah just... you know me. Ah've always been a good girl, by society's standards. Mostly." She shrugs, a look up. "Ya said it yourself, Ozzie doesn't like to share, let alone share me. Especially now that he asked me to marry him."

“Fuck society’s standards.” Sunset lightly replies. “People have enough problems without trying to make sure everyone else approves of what they do.” Finally finishing the dishes, Sunset reaches into the sink to pull the plug before starting to dry one last plate. “And yes... Maybe you should have kept dating Angie. She wouldn’t care, much.” Teasing, with that.”

"No, but Ah don't know that Andy would be up for sharin', either." A hint of a smile. "If Ah had kept dating Angie, Ah wouldn't be pregnant and havin' this whole issue."

“If you had kept dating Angie, neither of you would be having your current issues.” Sunset answered, her expression darkening for a tiny moment. “Though, I would say that you’re doing much better with yours, than she is with hers.”

"Ah've seen her. Drank with her, an' we talked." Sabrielle flushes. "Ya know, Ah'd been bein' so good. Only a glass or two of wine, durin' the whole mess. Then Ah went to Angie's an' drank. Ah just.. Ah hope it's not gonna come back an' bite me."

Sunset shakes her head, giving a comforting smile. “In early pregnancy, the baby receives less than ten percent of what the mother ingests, and even then, it can be as low as one percent. If you kept drinking, there might be problems later on, but just those few times most likely won’t hurt anything."

"Well, Ah remember wine wasn't considered so bad. The stuff Ah was drinkin' has very, very alcohol content. Just Vodka...well it's vodka." A hand up through her hair. "Just get Ozzie back, gonna have whiskey in the house again, an' can't drink it."

“Ask him not to drink in front of you, if you think it might be a problem. Knowing him, he’d do it for you.” Which, he would. Oz acts like Sabrielle hung the moon. “And don’t worry, Sabs. The baby will be fine. A lot of mothers drink early in their pregnancy before they know that they’re pregnant. It’s only when you drink heavily throughout the pregnancy that problems start to arise. Though, if I remember correctly, a glass of wine every now and then isn’t harmful.”

Sabrielle snorts. "Ah couldn't ask him to do that. Gonna be bad enough remindin' him he can't smoke in the bedroom, tryin' to get him to cut down around me." The empath clearly doesn't realize Oz acts like that. "Thanks. An' Ah think we both know Ah won't be drinkin' like that. Ozzie would lock me in the bedroom."

“Isn’t that what got you in this situation in the first place?”

Used to be Sabs would bury her face at something like that. While her cheeks still turn crimson, blue eyes give Sunset a flat look. "Started in tha shower, since ya asked." Airily, just a little sass.

Sunset just grins. “Warren and I didn’t even make it to the stairs. We eventually just worked our way to the bed.”

Sabrielle picks up the water bottle again, another long swallow. "Sounds about right." Another smile. "After ya left the other day, he came home ta catch me sleepin' on the couch. Ah tried to get him to curl up with me, but he wouldn't. Was afraid he'd want ta do a lot more than cuddle, an' it would chase me away." Her voice very soft, studying the water bottle. "He woulda gone for the couch, but Ah taunted him to go for the bed."

“And yet you ended up in the shower.” Sunset muses, moving to get her own bottle of water out of the fridge. “How did that happen?”

"No no no. The shower was when he first got back." A chuckle, cheeks still hot. "It was the first time we ever went without anythin', before he went away. Last time Ah remembered clear as day."

Still smiling, Sunset quiets as she leans against the counter, resting mostly on her elbows. Watching Sabrielle for a long moment, the older redhead tilts her head curiously. “Do you still wonder if you made the right choice, Sabs?” She questions, softly.

"Not so much, anymore. Ah keep thinkin' about it, of course. Ah'm still attracted to Andy, an' when he hugs me, it feels good... but bein' with Ozzie again..it's gravity, isn't that what ya called it?"

Sunset nods. “Gravity. Fitting, isn’t it?” Looking around the apartment for a moment, she gives a small smile. “I’m not sure if what Warren and I have could be called that. Then again, I’m not sure what it would be called at all.”

Sabrielle studies her left hand, the blue and white sparkle on it. "Ah told him it cost too much. Oz could give me a ring out of a bubble gum machine, probably, and Ah'd love it. Just.. Ah love Andy. But the love Ah've got for Oz, now that Ah've just let myself stop fightin'...not gravity, so much magnets matchin' up."

“You know Oz doesn’t do anything half-assed, Sabrielle.” Sunset points out. “If he was going to get you a ring, he was going to go all out for it.” Reaching out to grab Sabrielle’s hand, Sunset finally pulls it closer to get a better look at the ring. “...You have to admit, he apparently has good taste when it comes to these things.”

"Sunset, he told me how many carats. Ah just... well christ, he coulda spent half as much, still woulda been prettier than anythin' Ah've ever owned." Her voice soft. "Never got jewelry from a guy before. But...Ah.." A shrug. "Worry he spent too much, even if the man knows my taste too well by half."

“Where...” Sunset starts to ask, and then pauses, frowning a bit. “Where did he get the money for it, in the first place? I don’t think he’s had a job, yet, and even if he had... I doubt it would have paid that well.”

"Angie gave him his money back, he tol' me. He says the record company doesn't have everythin' straightened out yet... but that's part of why Ah worry. Ah can wait for a ring. Ah can wait for him, Sunset. He says he's gonna love me beyond forever. How could Ah not wait for that?"

“When one is as impatient as Oz, it doesn’t really matter how patient everyone else is. He rushes like he’s worried he’ll never get anything done in time if he doesn’t, which... Considering past events, I don’t say I can blame him, much.”

"But Sunset...this is me. Ah haven't gone anywhere. Ah still had almost all his stuff in the apartment. Andy never came over, why do ya think Ah didn't have any condoms in my place when Oz showed up? Don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous ring, an' havin' him ask me..." words trailing off. "But it doesn't make me love him any more than Ah did already."

“You think he asked you, because he was worried you didn’t love him enough?”

"Ah don't know why he asked me. Just sayin' he coulda waited until we were settled. Ah... Ah worry about money an' things, is all. Don't tell him Ah worry, he doesn't need ta know. Ah've just got to go back to work since Ah'm not in school this semester."

Frowning slightly, Sunset nods. “Yes, but... Do you really need to worry about it? I know New York is expensive, but you don’t live luxuriously, either. And with what Oz and I left you after we... left... is there really any need to worry?”

Sabrielle glances away from the other redhead, "Ah never spent any of it. Ah was savin' it. Dunno for what, but... it's not mine. It's certainly not mine /now/. Ah've just been tryin' to find a way to give it back that won't get taxed."

Sunset snorts, half amused and half exasperated. “Of /course/ it’s yours. And considering my current circumstances, I wouldn’t need, nor want it. So, keep it. And since Oz is now your betrothed, I’d say what you got from him is still yours. Yours alone, both of yours, whatever you want.”

"Sunset! It is not mine. Need it or not...you never know what might happen. An' if you're gonna be stubborn about it, Ah'll just let it sit in the account Ah've got it in, makin' interest." A shake of her head. "It's Ozzie's. Ah gotta ask him what he wants to do with it. If he wants, Ah can get him a card for it, an' he doesn't need to move it or anythin'. Then once we're married, it won't matter anyhow."

“Somehow, I don’t see Warren going broke. Besides, if /you’re/ going to be stubborn about it, give it to me. Then, I can just give it back as a baby shower – slash – wedding present. So, ha.” Yes, she really does feel like she’s won with that. “Do you have any idea when the wedding will be? Big wedding, small wedding?”

Sabs snorts. "Ah just worry. Ah have some money set aside, but..." She looks back down at her hand, a softness stealing into her eyes. "No. We haven't talked about when or how or anythin'. Ah..Ah don't want anythin' big. Not if Ozzie's goin' back into music an' everythin'. People have been followin' him for pictures already."

“Well. Why not just... have a private wedding first – Just you, him, and like... enough people to make it legal. – and then later, if you want to, have a medium sized one. One where it wouldn’t really matter if people have managed to sneak in to take pictures or not, since it wouldn’t be the /actual/ wedding.”

"Ah don't really need anythin' big. Ozzie, me, you, Angie if she wants ta come, Warren if ya wanna bring him. Ah don't know if Momma will approve. Especially if she knows Ah've been livin' with him." A shrug from the younger redhead.

“If you want Angie there, I would immediately start preparing a list of rules for her. Just in case.” Sunset points out with a small smile. “And if you wouldn’t mind me bringing Warren, I would love to bring him. As for your mother... Perhaps they should meet before any major plans are made?”

"Angie is Angie. Ah'll tell her no t-shirts, no hittin' on the judge. She might behave for me gettin' married. An' Warren's your fella, why wouldn't Ah want ya to bring 'em?" A hand up through her hair. "Ozzie told me he'd been planning to propose when we went down to N'awlins, before he went away. Ah guess he coulda met her then. But..Ah haven't talked to her much lately, eitha."

Sunset gives a slight frown at that, slowly starting to tear the label off of her bottle of water. “Why not, exactly?”

"She's seein' someone new, so she's spendin' a lot of time travellin' with him. Retired guy. She's sorta consumed with all that. " Sabs looks up at sunset's face. "Which is good, really. Ah mean Ah don't want her bein' alone or anythin'. Just hard to talk to her, anymore."

“Could you find a way to get in contact with her? Maybe you can talk them into visiting New York, and you could... I don’t know. Get the introductions done then. Maybe she could even stay for the wedding.”

"Oh sure. She still answers the phone sometimes. Emails me. But he's always around. And Ah don't know if she wants me around so much. New guy, new life, an' well...Ah'm just the reminder of the old."

Sunset’s frown deepens at that, tearing off a piece of the bottle label a bit more fiercely this time. “Well... I don’t know if I’m really a good substitute or not, but I do view you as a daughter, and I certainly want you around.” Even if she isn’t as happy as she could be about the baby, and Sunset feels guilty about that, as it is.

Sabrielle smiles. "See you more as a big sister, myself. An' its only gonna get worse, when Ah marry Oz." She looks down at her hands. "Ah know it's hard for ya right now, an' its a lot goin' on to take in, but Ah'm hopin' you'll try to help me pick out a dress."

“Oh, Sabs, I...” Trailing off, Sunset sighs, sagging against the counter as she rests her face in her hands. “I’m sorry I’m not happier about the baby. I feel horrible about it, really, I do. It’s just... I was so ready to... I had the nursery and-“ It’s here that her voice cracks, just slightly, and she trails off again, shaking her head as she changes the topic. “Of course I’ll help you find a dress. I’d love to.”

Water gets set down, so she can move to wrap arms around Sunset. "Sunny, Ah knew it would be hard. Ah know. Ah lost you an' Ozzie, an' then Ah had that little glimmer of somethin' to look forward to, an' lost it. Ah know, Sunny, gawd Ah know."

Sunset bites her tongue at that, making sure to keep her emotions, and thoughts, very carefully in check now. Returning the hug after a short pause, Sunset sighs again. “I think... I want to go take a nap, now.” She murmurs, before pulling back, and offering a small smile. “Just... tell me when you want to go dress shopping, alright?”

Sabrielle kisses Sunset's cheek. "All right, sweetie. You nap well, an' Ah'll talk to ya later. Love you, okay?"

“I love you, too. Be safe.”

"Never." A grin that looks like she learned it from Oz, as Sabs heads for the door. "Ah'll let myself out. Bye, Sunset."




Log. Saturday, March 06, 2010. [WES] The Grind Stone.

Salem Center's sole coffee shop, the Grind Stone does quite well for itself. People flock to it at all hours of the day, seeking both caffeine and company. The floor is covered with tiles of an alternating white and deep green; wooden chairs with green seats huddle around polished oak tables, and a few booths of similar design line the walls. Large windows, kept spotlessly clean, allow patrons to look out upon Salem Center - and attract many passersby with enticing glimpses of the food and beverages within. A handful of potted plants add yet more green to the atmosphere, contrasting with white-painted walls - though the walls themselves are a little dingy, marked by the years.

The air is redolent with the scent of coffee, and conversations fill the room at all times. Waiters bustle about the room, attending their customers, for this is not a simple coffee shop - it is the core of Salem Center's social life, and pulls in more than enough business to afford its customers a few luxuries.

Well, her day so far had not been the /best/, but Sunset was determined for it to not be ruined so soon. So, with that she had called one of the few people who had the ability to always cheer her up, asking Jackson to meet her at the Grind Stone. Sitting in one of the armchairs by the window, as she usually does while visiting here, she is dressed in dark jeans, heeled boots, and a long sleeved green top with a simple black jacket over it. The redhead seems to be lost in thought, staring out the café window while she waits, her brow furrowed. Two coffee cups sit on the table next to her, one already partially gone, the other not hers, and untouched.

Jackson arrives in a hurry, taking time to lock up his bike outside before hurrying inside. The day has been unseasonably warm and so the Southerner is not nearly so bundled up as he /has/ been all winter -- still, he's in a sweater and light jacket, with a bright purple cap. He grins bright as he spies Sunset, scurrying over to her table. "Sunset! Hi! You okay?" His brow furrows to match hers. He leans in closer to poke at her furrow. Poke. Poooooke.

Looking up at him, Sunset smiles as Jackson pokes at her forehead, doing nothing to stop him. The smile makes her previous expression evaporate, though there’s still a bit of tightness around her eyes that hints that something isn’t quite right. “Be careful, Starshine. If you’re not careful, I’ll go crosseyed!” Standing to give Jackson a hug, the redhead presents him with the second cup of coffee as she sits again. “Your favorite, as always.”

The last poke turns into more of a rub, Jax seemingly attempting to smoothe out the wrinkle manually, his smile widening when it goes away. He returns the hug, tight and squeezy, before happily dropping down into his chair. He peels off his jacket to drape it over the back of the seat. "Mmmmmthanks. There’s worse things'n being crosseyed anyhow. Like being /frowny/. S'you aright? You didn't /answer/."

“Am I still frowny?” Sunset asks, mock alarmed. “And no. I suppose I didn’t, but you don’t have to worry, Jackson. I’m fine! Simply... thoughtful about a few things, is all.” Picking up her own cup of coffee – Something with lots of mocha, and a hint of mint. – she takes a long sip before asking, “How have things been with you?”

"Schooly. Schoollike? School/tastic/," Jax decides on, dragging his cup closer to swipe a finger through the soy whip on top and suck it off his fingertip. "You're toooootally giving me a break from the history report I don't really wanna be workin' on anyway." He tucks a leg up beneath him, glittery-purple-nailpolished fingers curling around his cup. "Thoughtful 'bout what?"

Sunset gives a small laugh at his description. “Well, I’m glad to be helpful in some way. Though, I hope you do finish it later, hm?” Her smile fades a bit at Jackson’s last question as she glances down into her cup, a bare hint of that wrinkle between her eyebrows returning. “...Oz asked Sabrielle to marry him.” She answers. “And, she’s expecting a baby, sometime in November, if her math is right.”

Winter's chill is broken by the meager sunlight filtering out of the sky, and the snow on the ground has been melting weakly ever since the rays began to hit them. The sidewalk outside the cafe is wet, sloshy, and clicks damp underfoot; the few passerby that are visible outside the big windows seem preoccupied with a prior destination. Only one files in the door, finding her friends and sitting down in one of the booths. The atmosphere is generally demure, though somehow distilled enough that there seems to be a feeling that something is bound to happen.

It does, eventually, just after the colorful teenage boy drapes his coat along his seat, and the redhead that he is with assures him that his worry is not necessary. The green in the Grind Stone is most places- the tiles, the seats, the things along the walls- the plants put around the cafe. Well, actually, they were brown and dry just minutes ago when anyone happened to look over. They //were// brown. They //were// nearly dead. But, whatever water and whatever food was in those poor little pots has suddenly brought them all back, like little green gargoyles perched on edges. The plants sprout, fertile and promising of a season that has yet a month to come to the northeast.

Some, inexplicitly, have little flowers that had never otherwise appeared.

Outside the coffee shop, it is the same cold background- save for the figure waiting outside one of the tall glass panes. His presence, while somber, is one that neither of them will have expected. A gentleman's fine clothing, a long winter coat, shining buttons peeking here and there, gloves over slender hands which have curled on top of one another, clutching around the knob of a polished wooden cane that he only leans his new height on for a moment. The young man's long blonde hair is the same, as are his piercing blue eyes, staring very intently into the window of the Grind Stone. For a split second, he is like a ghost- the next, perhaps a painting. But in the end Rene is very much real, very tangible.

"Wooooah! That's awesome! I mean, that's awesome, right?" Jax's nose wrinkles uncertainly. "Ain't that exciting? You don't look excited." Confused, he leans in closer to peer at Sunset intently, then leans back again to take a drink from his cup that leaves a dollop of whipped cream adorning the end of his nose. Something else makes his nose wrinkle further -- greenery noticed at the edge of his vision, and his eyes flicker around the room idly, not really sure what it was that distracted them. It takes a moment for it to sink in, and with a quiet, "Huh," he stares for a moment at the potted plants. His head tilts curiously. "Weeeeeeeeird." Rene hasn't yet been noticed, but his chin lifts in indication of one of the newly-greened plants. "Coulda /swored/ that was deader when we got here."

“It is exciting.” She agrees, her smile now somehow carrying just a hint of sadness. “And I should be very happy. And yet, I...” Trailing off, she shakes her head with a sigh. “Look at me. Here I am, wanting to meet you to make the day a little better, and I nearly lead it to less than merry conversations.” Glancing around at the plants herself, Sunset nods. “They /were./” She murmurs, gaze flitting past the window before looking back to it, at the man outside. It takes a moment to sink in – He’s grown, after all, and it has been a long time. – before it registers, and she’s setting her cup down to grab at Jackson’s sleeve, getting his attention. “Starshine. /Look./”

For all his silence outside, Rene begins to feel like some sort of wild animal that a zoologist has been waiting months to spot for just ten seconds of the day. He //is// behind glass, he supposes, lips pursing slightly as his eyes follow Sunset's grabbing of sleeve. They dart back up under half-lids, glittering blue back at her. His knuckles bend and flex around the top of the cane, rubbing palm against the deep blue stone in the top.

Rene tilts his head a few degrees to the left, right side eyebrow lifting enough to express question. Hello, zoo patron.

"What? D'you think they ain't right for each other or summat? Cuz otherwise seems like a happything to me." Jax turns at the tugging of his sleeve, brow furrowing. "What? What'm I lookin' at?" He peers outside, baffled even after he sees Rene. It takes a longer time for him than it did for Sunset, and then his blue eyes open wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide and he gets up, chair legs clatter-scraping along the floor with the abruptness with which he stands. Stands, and hurtles towards the door, exuberance carrying him outside. "RENEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Rene is that /you/ ohmy/gosh/ you're bigger'n me now how did /that/ happen where you /been/?" Somewhere in the middle of this he is opening his arms for a characteristically fierce-tight Jax-hug.

Sunset does not follow as fast, though she is just as elated as Jackson is. Coffee and previous conversation completely forgotten, the redhead nearly runs into someone as she rushes out the door, not even pausing or thinking to stop and apologize. A new very genuine smile nearly splitting her face, she can’t help but laugh at Jackson’s reaction, delighted and amused. Skirting around the both of them, she doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t know what to say. She just waits for her chance at a hug.

Rene's eyebrows quirk upwards when the chair nearly flies out from under the boy, irises stirring to follow him all the way out the door, ears trying to listen over that watery rushing of his heartbeat in his head. It's been too long- he is out of practice when it comes to hearing what Jackson says. It doesn't really matter after a bit, though. He lifts his arms in response when the boy leaps at him for an embrace. Rene's left hand keeps hold of the wooden cane, the other wrapping over the teenager's back. Rene is much more wiry than he used to be, and his straight posture can almost be felt. So, the hug is a //little// stiff at first.

"I've been away." Lips pull back in a slow smile, offered slowly to both of them, expression serene, even if he feels surreal. Rene is ever so obvious, and cryptic to boot. His voice is only slightly different as opposed to his physical state. It is more masculine and rather ...smoldering, yes, but once he speaks it is easy to tell that it //is// him and not some weird Frenchie clone.

"Away in some freak alternate dimension full'a /aliens/ with /magnifyin' rays/?" Jax asks -- perhaps he is even serious about this! He certainly gives Rene a very curious and searching look once he has released him from the tackle-pounce-hug.

Her smile grows a small bit at Jackson’s question, if only because there is not much room for it to grow in the first place. Taking a small step towards Rene, Sunset hesitates a moment, unsure of whether or not to simply hug him like Jackson did, or wait for some sort of permission. Rene isn’t the only one that’s changed, apparently. “Are there any available hugs left, or did Jackson take them all?” She asks, softly.

The air around Rene bristles with something- static- and a shadow passes behind his eyes before hopping away into the chill breeze. He keeps his smile through it all. "Not- not quite, no."

"I've been saving them up for a long time. I've got plenty." His arms lift again for Sunset's turn, confirming the hesitance he can see as not required. Reassurance in word, and in a moment, hopefully physically.

"Then I guess you jus' been drinkin' your milk like th'ads say," Jax decides with an emphatic nod. His hand lifts to scuff fingers through his hair -- bright purple hair today, to match his glittery nailpolish and the shimmer of eyeshadow dusted over his eyes. "An' I got /loads/ more hugs where /that/ camed from. I jus' thought it'd be selfish t'hog 'em all what with Sunset waitin' so patient. How you /been/?"

Stepping into his arms, Sunset’s grip on Rene is tight as she wraps her arms around him. “I missed you, Rene.” The words fall from her lips before she can really think about what to say, and she doesn’t try and take them back. After all, they are true.

"I suspect that I will need some more." Rene affirms across Sunset's shoulder to Jackson, his blond locks mingling through some of her bright red. "I missed you too. Both of you." The staff- that is what it is, held by the hardy rowan- bumps against Sunset's shoulder with Rene's hands around her. When he comes away again, he does use it once again to put some of his weight onto it. It looks like more of a habit than a real need for support. "I have been a thousand things- but right now- I would say that I have been recuperating. I have been well enough. Though I wish well enough to have won a phoenix token." Rene ends, very pointedly to the woman near him.

"'cup'ratin' from what?" Jax asks curiously. He doesn't say anything about missing Rene -- but it's clear enough in his expression as he looks at him. "All I been doin's school. An' Sunset's gonna adopt me!" That is his news, beginning and end. He leans against the side of the building, and then straightens again hurriedly. "You should come /inside/! An' get coffee. I'll even buy it! My chai's totally gonna get cold though an' that'd be terrible so we should move."

There’s a chuckle from her at Rene’s last remark, a bit self-depreciating, as she meets his pointed look with amused eyes. “Fear not. I imagine I have used my last one, so we’re on even ground now. Not that I have any want or wish to test that idea soon.” Sparing the cane a curious glance, Sunset doesn’t ask about it just yet. “And yes, do come inside. Sidewalks are not exactly an ideal place for reunions.”

"Ah, yes, that would be very terrible. Neither are coffee shops, when it comes down to it." Rene does make a note to ask into Jackson's statement on //adoption//, however. If he forgets now perhaps he will ask again later. "Recuperating. Just that." He has a reason, but it is clear that right now he does not want to talk about it, and so he nearly spurns it in a more ...crude way. The young man moves towards the cafe door, pushing it open, stepping just inside, and keeping it wide enough for the two of them to follow.

Well, most of his manners seem to have survived. He'll get them all back soon.

"Coffee shops are great places for reunions! I mean, well, tea shops are /better/, but this'n has tasty chai anyway." Jax's head bobs in thanks to Rene for the held-open door, and he scurries inside, heading back to his drink. "Are you back like for-good now? Here I mean. I mean 're you gonna disappear an' come back seven feet tall in two years? Cuz that'd --" Jax's eyes light. "Actually that'd be /neat/. 'cept the disappearin' part. I'd hafta miss you all over again."

She follows them both inside. “Oh, Jackson, don’t say such things. My mind is still trying to wrap around the fact that he’s grown to be my height now. The idea of him being taller than Oz is just... somewhat frightening.” She’s teasing with that, eyes twinkling just a bit as she sits down to pick her cup of coffee up again. And then she’s glancing down to the cup to make sure that it /is/ actually her cup of coffee, and is relatively untouched. Yup, that’s hers, alright.

"I think that I am done growing." Rene laughs. His laugh is not the giggle that he used to have- not even close. The lower timbre in his speaking voice comes out crystal clear when he laughs. "If I am lucky I will get another half an inch." As he removes his coat to put it on the seat and sit, the vest gathered around the torso underneath is tailored along his new lines. His girlish figure isn't quite there anymore, but there is a new, mannish broadness to his shoulders, and a more clear cut triangle from chest to waist. God forbid, maybe he even has to shave his face once a week. "I'm back. I am going to reopen the shop, and live there."

Jax is -- actually quiet for once! It's a rare moment, so the others should enjoy it. He is quite occupied in scrutinizing Rene, his gaze sweeping the young man, appraising and with a curious eye to how he's changed since they last met. He sips at his drink, blue eyes studying Rene over the rim of his cup.

Sunset is also studying Rene, though quite possibly for different reasons. Sometimes, it is hard to remember that two years have gone by since she – left, considering that a little more than a year of that was spent with no memory, and it is odd for her to look at Rene now and remember how he was then. He grew up, and Sunset really isn’t sure how to feel about it, no matter how elated she is that he’s back. “That’s good. I’ve missed the shop, and it’s absolutely horrid trying to find any sort of fresh plant life anywhere else. No one else has your special touch with them, Rene.”

It is probably very weird. Probably almost supernatural- a little. Though they may or may not pick up on that. Rene glances over towards the wall, where the little bushels of potted plants seem to have drawn the wary attention of the management. He smiles to himself. When he looks straight at them, his spirit is the same- but his aura seems wounded. It will heal, in time. "I am lucky." Rene says simply. Truthfully. Honestly. Though after another moment he meets Jackson's gaze with a small tilt of his head, and a matched look at the teenager. If he has something on his mind, this may be the time to say it.

"I still got baby Charmi," Jax informs Rene brightly, which is admittedly /probably/ not what was on his mind; but it is what he says. "Ain't hardly much'a a /baby/ now though. S'growed so big. Nice t'have green 'round the dorm, that's for sure." As a farm boy, he'll take all the growing things around him that he can get. Still, he keeps studying Rene, quiet and thoughtful. Eventually he does tear his gaze away, letting it drift over to the potted plants as he sips at his chai.

“Are you?” Sunset curiously questions. Taking a drink from her cup, she glances away as soon as the question leaves her, but it doesn’t stop her from asking even more questions. “Where did you go, while you were away?” She wants to ask why he left in the first place, but she feels like she’s being rude enough.

Rene lifts his eyebrows again at the mention of the old and very weird vine. "You do? I- could I have a root?" He asks this sheepishly. "The first one, unfortunately..." What's a good term? Err. "Passed away. I was not able to take him with me after a certain point. But, I had to give up what I had with me at a later time, regardless of state." The plant would have died anyway from the sound of it.

"Only a few of my plants still live. Winters can be harsh. The moss in the tunnels has mostly died off. And the creature-" Rene clams up, jaw gritting. His eyes look up to Sunset, vaguely pleading. "I am."

"I went a thousand places. Globetrotting, at best."

"Globetrottin' sounds /exciting/. I ain't hardly never been /nowhere/. I'd like t'see the world someday, though. An' /course/ you can have a vine, I mean you growed him in th'first place. S'only fittin'!" Jax is bubbly-cheerful even through Rene's pleading looks and gritted jaw -- or maybe /because/ of them. The artist's keen eyes rarely miss much, but he seems more inclined to be effervescent than to pry.

Looking down into her cup now, Sunset does her best to keep the guilty look off of her face, though it flashes through her eyes just for a second. Peeking up at Rene for a moment, she sends him an apologetic look before speaking again. This time, her tone is a bit more cheerful, going along with Jax. “I’m sure you’ll have plenty of stories, then, once you’re adjusted to being back.”

Jackson has infinite wisdom in what he does, even if he doesn't fully realize it. Rene is inwardly grateful for that bubbliness, and it looks like it has signaled to Sunset- along with his own stiffness- that now is not the time. He lets it go with a fresh smile. "Of course I will. Plenty of stories, once I get myself together and settled in. I have got quite a task list."

Jackson says, "Well, if'n y'need help with anything, be sure an' let me know, aright?" Jax offers warmly. "I mean m'at school lots but weekends I can get into town, an' some evenin's too, an' I know stuff like unpackin' an' settling in can be a right pain but I'd be glad t'help." He grins, and takes a gulp of his chai. "I mean even if y'don't /need/ help an' jus' want some comp'ny. Or cookies. I still bake pretty awesome desserts.""

Smiling now – It seems like she’s become very good at faking those. – around the edge of her cup as she raises it to her lips once more, Sunset settles back into her chair, watching the other two over the rim of the coffee cup for a quiet moment. No. Today had not gone how she had planned at all.