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Broken Heroes | An original superhero mystery RP [R]

Tangeh

Well-Known Member
Jared Caswell
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute


Nathan hesitated at Jared's question for long enough that Jared was starting to question whether Nathan had heard it, but then he turned and shrugged. "I don't understand any of this," he finally admitted, the genuine pain and confusion in his tone speaking volumes more than his actual words. "This can't be real. It just can't be! I saw-" his quivering voice broke, and Jared's stern gaze softened. "I saw his body. He held my hand as he died." Nathan stared at “Lucas”, unshed tears glimmering in his eyes.

Jared frowned and opened his mouth to say something – apologize or comfort him maybe; he was pretty taken aback by Nathan's reaction – but a sharp voice interrupted his train of thought. "Perhaps had you been more attentive, you might have saved me," Lucas said, his voice dripping with malice, as if he was enjoying the man's pain. Jared's eyes narrowed at the disrespect, but Lucas's attention didn't linger on Nathan for very long. The other siblings were starting to rise with himself and Lilith, and Lucas's eyes flittered between them before settling on Lyn. "A knife, Lyn? Really?" Jared moved closer to Lyn, ready to protect her if Lucas made any sudden moves. He stood tall and confident and glared at his so-called brother, but anger wasn't the emotion he was really feeling. Beneath the mask, his emotions were swirling between fear, sadness, and confusion. What the hell was going on? "What are you going to do - stab me?"

It turned out that Lyn wasn't the one who needed protecting. Lucas leapt forward at an alarming speed, as if he himself became a streak of light, and as Jared braced in anticipation of wrestling him off Lyn, he stopped instead directly in front of Theo, one hand extended as if to snatch his phone away. Jared froze in shock, as did Theo, who understandably looked terrified. Had... Lucas always been able to do that? Lucas had known too much about Jared's powers, but apparently Jared had known very little about Lucas's. There was nothing Jared could do from the wrong side of the table without making the situation worse, so he watched intently as Lucas taunted Theo. Jared felt like he was only getting half the story watching them – was Theo detecting lies? Jared wasn't sure how to read his bewildered expression – at least until Lucas insisted that “in a certain way” he was Lucas, and Theo's face slowly shifted into a glare.

June burst forward, pulling Theo aside and reaching for Lucas – and her hand went straight through his chest. The entire room seemed to hang in stunned silence for a moment, then Lucas burst into dark smoke that rose into the air and disappeared. Nathan finally lost his composure and sobbed, insisting that June take them away to their rooms. Jared looked pitifully at Nathan, deciding it was best to leave him alone for now, and looked at Lyn. “Are you okay?” he asked quietly. It was a pointless question – even when Lyn's own skin was being torn apart, she always insisted she was okay. Yet he asked it anyway, partly to reassure her that somebody cared, and partly to affirm to both her and himself that, as the asker, he himself must be okay. He was really only okay in one context – that he wasn't about to decimate the entire building. But for now, that was good enough. Lilith had gone to Theo – he definitely wasn't okay, but he also wasn't sharing any information about whether what they'd just heard were lies or truths, which was incredibly frustrating. There wasn't anything Jared could do, but he also realized it didn't matter – he wouldn't trust anything that came out of Theo's mouth anyway.

Upstairs Bedrooms, The Institute

June led everyone upstairs. The group was unusually quiet. Jared glanced at the others and was at least reassured that he clearly wasn't the only one who was unsettled by everything that had just happened. June opened the secret entrance behind the bookcase and the group walked in. Overall, it was much like Jared remembered it. He caught Lilith taking a few pictures out of the corner of his eye, but Jared personally just wanted to disappear into the floor and end up back in India. He'd spent so long trying to forget this place that he only remembered why he'd come in the first place when Ginny asked if they could go in Lucas's room. Some of the others were understandably hesitant – Jared was too, but his desire for more information overrode it. Lyn broke off from the group and went to her old bedroom - Jared didn't question it, knowing even in their teenaged years Lyn needed a lot of rest.

Jared followed Ginny inside and looked around. It was a lot different than he remembered, which was to be expected. It was a little uncomfortable being in here, but he decided to reflect on it later in his nightly prayers. He had work to do now. His attention went at first to the numerous framed newspaper clippings on the walls. A photograph of a smiling Lucas, Devin, Lyn, and a frowning Gale were pictured in one of them – Jared's memory of that day began flooding back as he kept reading. Right – they had all been there, but they'd split up into three groups, and obviously Lucas's group got the most important task, and ergo, all the glory. He had no idea even then what Ginny, Cameron, Morgan, and Theo's group was doing, but he definitely remembered Marron and Garret bickering for most of the mission, to the point where Lilith had to play mediator for half of their conversations. The four of them were often stuck together when they needed to break through locked doors. Garret's metal fists could burst down most things, and combined with Marron's powers, they could do so in complete stealth. Lilith could slip through cracks when they couldn't muscle their way through, or lift them up to impossible to reach areas, and Jared himself was – well – the emergency escape button, and an extra body against the enemy.

I told you! Alpha just wanted us out of the way! You guys are idiots if you think there's anything down here. We haven't seen anyone in half an hour – what's the goddamn point?!” Garret's silver fist silently burst through another closet, revealing – once again – nothing of interest. “I say we set the bomb off and say we had to retreat. The others are probably done by now anyway and I'm so f*cking tired of Renata and Matthew b*tching at us for not - ”

Garret's mouth continued to flap, but they couldn't hear him. Marron had one hand extended toward him, and rolled her eyes. “Oh shut up Epsilon – I don't know why you give a damn anyway, but we're all sick of your whining. You sound like such a child, 'oh wah-wah, my name is Epsilon and I'll never be as good as Alpha'; literally none of us care!”

Garret glared at her, clearly mouthing the words 'Let. Me. Speak.' Marron lowered her hand, and -

Jared snapped himself out of the memory and stepped away from the article. He couldn't remember much after what Garret had said anyways... aside from the horrified faces of Lilith and Marron when he'd collapsed to the ground, unable to stop his body from...

Maybe that was just one more domino set up that would lead to Garret's ultimate demise. Jared had never said anything, but he wasn't paired with that group as much anymore, so maybe Lilith or Marron had. Sure, Garret pushed everyone's buttons, but his relationship with Marron had always been rocky, at least from his admittedly biased point of view.

Jared glanced behind him to where Theo was tearing apart Lucas's desk. He'd take a look himself when he was done. Speaking of Lilith, she wasn't with him anymore. He couldn't fault her for not wanting to come in here.

Deciding it was a bad idea to read any more of the articles from when they were teens, he looked instead at the Alpha Prime suit in a glass display case on the wall. Right, Lilith had told him about this, though even in India Alpha Prime sometimes made the news. He walked up next to Ginny, who was looking really calm given everything that had just happened. Maybe being in Lucas's room was bringing some comfort to her? Jared glanced at the article behind the suit - “Alpha Prime Puts a Dent in Car Thieves!!” Jared wondered if that first mission was staged too, like their first mission as rangers was. He glanced at Ginny. “It's hard to imagine that he was still doing this after we all moved on... that he felt he couldn't leave, or maybe that he owed it to society.” He stared solemnly at the suit for a few moments. “Did you keep in touch with him?” he asked Ginny, then hesitated, extending the question to the room at large: “...Were any of us able to keep in touch with him?” Their parents would be an obvious roadblock to any lasting relationship with their brother. He certainly hadn't tried, but he doubted Lucas would be interested in conversing with him anyways. He felt just as dehumanized by Lucas as he had by their parents... but he shouldn't be thinking ill of the dead.

“I found Lucas's cellphone, but it doesn’t turn on - does anyone happen to have a charger?” Theo asked, and Jared looked over.

“It's likely around here somewhere...” Jared answered, making a mental note to check the outlets and bedside table.

“There’s also... something you might want to see,” Theo continued. Morgan walked over, and Jared followed behind him as Theo abruptly turned tail and left, insisting he needed some air. He left behind a handful of envelopes and a notebook.

Morgan shuffled through the envelopes, and Jared watched quietly. They looked like they were addressed to various siblings – but what would Lucas have possibly written in there? They weren't postmarked, so it was hard to tell when they were written without opening them. “Looks like Lucas was keeping tabs on us too,” Morgan said as he read through the notebook. It was almost like Lucas had desperately tried to compile all of the important information about them in a few pages.

Jared glanced down, curious if his name was anywhere on there – and to Jared's surprise, it was. 'Jared – possibly went to India ????' Jared almost laughed at the vagueness – though yes, that was technically true. But then his eyes continued down the page – and he was surprised to find his P.O. Box address that he had told Lilith to give to the others if they wished to contact him. Oddly, though, it was scratched out – and to Jared's shock, the address of the temple he lived at had been scribbled in instead. “What – how would he know...?!” He hadn't even given that address to Lilith – was this how the letter that ultimately brought him here had ended up at the temple instead of his P.O. Box?
 
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Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Ranger Bedrooms, The Institute

When she had asked whether they could go into Lucas's room, a part of Ginny had expected some of her siblings to follow suit with more enthusiasm, especially given what had happened with "Lucas" downstairs. But on another hand, she also understood that being here was difficult for a lot of them - herself included - and that coming into Lucas's room would just stir up more complicated feelings for them. Theo, Morgan, and Jared were the first to follow her into the room, tentatively entering and beginning to quietly nose around.

Ginny didn't really pay attention to what they were doing at first, instead focusing on the Alpha Prime uniform proudly displayed on a mannequin in his room. She had seen Lucas wearing this outfit many times on news reports in the past. It was not entirely dissimilar to the uniforms they had worn as Rangers; the blue was darker sure, and the white detailing was different, but she could imagine where the inspiration had come from. The mask was the same darker blue as the suit, with the eyes covered by a white fabric, which Ginny knew to be see-through for the wearer, the group having used masks with a similar fabric during their days as the Rangers. In a way, it was nice to know he hadn't strayed too far from the past when making his suit. Unlike Garret. She could recall the gaudiness of his suit almost instantly, with all its silvers and white, and the odd metallic material he used that made it seem almost mirror-like at times. She had hated the design of it, finding it tacky and harsh on the eyes, but it was very showy like Garret always wanted to be. There could be no doubt in her mind he stood out in the crowd whilst wearing it.

So caught up in her thoughts, she didn't hear Jared approach and made a small 'hrmmph' noise when he spoke to her. “It's hard to imagine that he was still doing this after we all moved on... that he felt he couldn't leave, or maybe that he owed it to society.” Jared mused, staring solemnly at the suit. “Did you keep in touch with him?” He asked Ginny, before pausing to open the question up to the rest of the room.

"I tried," Ginny admitted after a moment, turning to glance at Jared. "I never knew what to write. A lot of the times I'd find myself starting to write, but then I'd talk myself out of it by the end, deciding he wouldn't have wanted to be bothered by us."

A moment later, Theo commented that he had found Lucas's phone but that it didn't turn on. After Jared suggested there was likely a charger around here somewhere, Theo once again caught their attention, telling them there was something they needed to see, before turning tail and leaving. Ginny thought he seemed a little tense when he left and wondered about whether he had found something troubling among Lucas's things, or whether the emotions of being here had finally got to him. After he left, Ginny joined her brothers in coming to see what he had wanted to show them, finding a number of envelopes. Like Jared, she watched as Morgan shuffled through them quietly, noting that they were various letter written to their siblings. Ginny's eyes briefly looked toward Jared, thinking back to their topic of conversation just minutes earlier. “Looks like Lucas was keeping tabs on us too,” Morgan said as he read through the notebook. And more Ginny noted, spotting her daughters name among a list of things Lucas had written.

***

Meanwhile outside, June lingered in the upper wing. These had always been the children's private rooms, and when they had all lived here, only they had been allowed up here the majority of the time. When they were younger, some of the Janets would often watch over them though, but as they had grown there had been less need for them up here, and Matthew and Renata had eventually conceded to allow them to have some privacy once they were teenagers. June had always suspected they kept tabs on them still, but she had never found anything to prove that.

As she stood there watching them all, she felt an ache in her chest, a part of her wishing that all of them could have been here. She knew this place held no fond memories for any of them, but a part of her longed to see them all again, even the children who were no longer with them. She blinked in surprise when Lilith came over to check on her, electing to see how she was doing rather than joining her siblings in investigating Lucas's room.

At the question of whether she had been trying to say something earlier June shook her head. "No it was nothing, dear," She assured her, giving her a warm smile. "Just some useless babbling on my part." She began to laugh faintly but it soon faded. "Thank you for checking up on me. It was...kind of you to do so. I fear it's been a difficult night for all of us. Once we have rested I am sure things will be better." Despite her assurances, the tone of her voice hinted that she seemed uncertain things would improve by tomorrow.

There was a long moment before June began speaking again, only this time it was less directed at Lilith and more to anyone who lingered in the hallway. "That can't have been Lucas down there, it just can't have been," She mumbled, shaking her head. She closed her eyes momentarily, opening them when she began to talk again. "He was such a good boy. He would never have been so venomous and full of hatred. Never! Despite what some of you may think, he never hated you for leaving. None of us did. He was hurt by it and didn't speak any of your names for weeks, but he soon came to understand and sympathise with why you left. He was -" There was a pause and an uncertain expression took hold of June, as though she were torn about whether say what she was going to say next. She glanced down the corridor quickly, as if expecting to see someone there, before taking a steadying breath to finish her words. "Let's just say, after you left, he soon came to see how horrid your parents could be and how that would push someone into wanting to get away."
 

Schade

Hide and Seek
Devin Caswell
The Institute
West Wing Dining Room


To nobodys surprise, nothing seemed to make the ituation clearer. It didn't help that Nathan also chimed in that he had, in fact, watched Lucas die, which made this imposter seem less legit than he already was. It was almost a relief hearing that this figure wasn't the real Lucas, and the familiar sting of knowing their brother was indeed dead found its way back to his heart. Had he actually hoped this delinquent was their brother? Devin kept his posture, ready for action should the imposter try anything.

"Perhaps had you been more attentive, you might have saved me," Lucas taunted after hearing Nathan's words. Clearly playing some sort of mind game, he then all of a sudden leapt forwar with surprising speed and mobility, positioning himself directly in front of Theo, answering his questions regarding who, or what, he was in the same taunting tone, yet not actually answering any of the questions besides giving vague indicators that he may or may not actually be lucas. God, if anyone didn't punch this douche soon Devin would!

"You are not Lucas!" as June made an entrance. Going straight for Lucas as to pull him away from Theo, but somehow she went.. through him? Lucas then turned into a big puff of smoke mere moments later and disappeared. Great, so now they had smoke monsters to worry about. A heartbroken Nathan asked June to show the siblings to their rooms. He was gone before she managed to answer, leaving everyone in suspence, annoyance, confusion, sadness and potentialy hunger as not everyone had finished their meal yet. Devin felt his pocket to make sure that piece of broccoli was still there.


The bedroom area

The trip upstairs to where the siblings had lived and slept half their lives was a silent one. It seemed everybody needed some time to adjust to what had just happened, and Devin was no exception. It was unlike him to lose his cool like that, but it had turned out to be a false alarm, meaning the real Lucas was still dead. He clenched his fist at the thought, and cursed himself for having been stupid enough to have hopes he was still alive. The area seemed to have followed the rest of the institute in terms of modernization, as the older equipment had been switched out with more modern, up to standards items. It was clear Lucas had still been using the TV Room, as there were still DVD's and music albums laying about.

As they came up, Theo, Jared and Ginny went into Lucas' bedroom to see if he had left anything behind that would give them a clue as to what happened. Devin would've wondered why they were searching in there, had it not been from the almost literal blast from the past earlier. Devin didn't really feel up for going through his stuff. Not yet, at least. Maybe tomorrow. Leaving the others without saying anything, he went straight for that familiar door and slowly opened it. His room was dark, but he pressed the light switch next to the door, illuminating the room. It was a lot to take in, but it was clear nobody had been in there in quite some time, if the thick layer of dust was any indication.

The room was smaller than he remembered now that he was larger than he had been then, but everything seemed to be where he had left it. The shelf containing his figures was still laying on the floor with his collection scattered about, though the golden one he had used to win the fight was gone. Everything else was placed exactly as it had been when he left. He gently moved some figurines with his foot as he entered the room. A part of him was certain the room was left this way on purpose, to force him to clean up his own mess when he eventually returned. Janets were crafty in their parenting, after all. He opened one of his closets and dug out a duster and began working.
 

Monster Guy

Fairy type Trainer
Cameron Caswell
The Institute
West Wing Dining Room


Nothing happened. Lucas didn’t react to Cameron’s powers at all. Cameron was at a loss for what to do next. It seemed like everyone was scared and confused about what to do next. Nathan shouted that he had watched Lucas die, and Lucas simply taunted him. Then he lept forward and started saying some things to him.

June charged at ‘Lucas’ and tried to pull him away from Theo, only for her hand to go right through him. Cameron’s eyes went wide with shock. Was this a ghost then? Lucas would then vanish in a puff of smoke before they could get an answer. Nathan then asked June to show the siblings to their rooms, then walked away looking sad.

Cameron didn’t follow the others right away. “Guys! You’re not going to have any cake? Ah well, more for me!” As the others left, Cameron took himself a slice of cake. He wasn’t about to let all this sweet deliciousness go to waste...

The bedroom area

Cameron happily ate that slice of cake. “Mm, this so good! Guys you’re really missing out!” When he was done, he had frosting on his face. The trip upstairs was relatively uneventful. The hallway looked more or less the same way he remembered it, just with updated technology and stuff.

A few of the others wanted to go through Lucas’ room, and Cameron cringed. It didn’t feel right snooping through his brothers things. That may have been why his ghost visited them and why he was so angry. People freely touching his stuff. “Er... guys... I think I’m just gonna take a bath and call it a night. See you later.” And with that, he turned around and went straight to the bathroom.

The bathroom wasn’t anything too special. It was clean, and had a bathtub, and right now that was all that mattered. He turned on the water, and poured in some sweet smelling liquids he found in the cabinet into the tub. As the tub was filling up, he removed his clothes and dropped them on the floor. Once the tub was nearly full, he turned off the faucet, and slowly stepped inside the bubbling tub.

“Bubbles!” Cameron exclaimed as he splashed in the warm bath water that smelled of roses. He liked taking a bubble bath at the end of the day. It was the perfect way to relax, especially after encountering what could potentially have been his brother’s ghost. Cameron shuddered at the thought. He didn’t want to think about that anymore. Right now, he just wanted to have a good soak in the tub.
 

Skillfulness

Well-Known Member
Lilith O'Neil Caswell
The Institute, Cambridgeshire - Ranger Bedrooms


June said some things that only worried Lilith further. Rather, it wasn’t what she said, but how she said it. Her face betrayed her emotions and contradicted what she said. It was plain as day to Lilith, but she figured now would not be the right time to address it. She seemed very unsure about things and even more concerning was her sense of paranoia. Perhaps Lilith was overthinking things, but she would be sure to share the info with her siblings when she knew they were in private. This has all been quite a bit to handle and though not surprising, she was a little saddened that both Devin and Cam decided to go it alone. Perhaps the rest of the siblings could hash things out tonight before getting some sleep.

“Thank you June, really. You’ve done so much for us and we truly appreciate it. I… I hope you get some rest, I know we can be a handful sometimes.” Lilith chuckled lightly, trying to indicate she was simply joking and offered a quick hug. She quickly moved on though to join her siblings in Lucas’ room. Just got to jump right in. The less I think about it the easier it will be. On her way in, Theo was heading out.

“I need some fresh air,” he said while running a hand through his hair. He seemed highly unsettled by something. Hopefully not another visit from their rude intruder. Instead, Morgan was holding a notebook at Lucas’ desk.

“Looks like Lucas was keeping tabs on us too.” After the rest had a turn with it, Lilith skimmed through some pages and was a little shocked at the info in there. Not all of it was up to date, she had a few more accurate addresses than he had, but he was certainly vigilant in keeping up with his absent siblings. It moved her to think he still cared that much and it lent some truth to June’s words. Lucas hadn’t hated them and she was sure of it. She hoped everyone else felt the same, but it was hard to say. It was a long time ago and things were very different. Then there had been the trial and no one was happy about that. For now, Lilith was determined to get through this with her siblings.

Now her curiosity was piqued. Lilith forgot about June and Theo for a moment and took in Lucas’ room. It was bittersweet, standing in her deceased brothers bedroom. She noticed the clippings on the wall, the Ranger Suit, but her eyes were drawn to the nightstand. Not wanting to invade his privacy, though departed he may be, she needed to see if there could be any other clues to help figure out why there a phantom Lucas appeared tonight. First thing of note was a photo from his 21st birthday. He was alone with the staff from the mansion. It was sad. Lilith’s stomach churned as she felt guilty about leaving Lucas here to suffer. Sure she had stayed in touch, but her 21st birthday looked vastly different, filled with more friendship and life than this whole picture. She moved on.

The second photo on the nightstand was Lucas with a woman and this seemed much happier. In fact, Lilith immediately noticed his hand on her waist and she warmed up again, filled with butterflies thinking about how Lucas may have found a happy relationship. Gingerly, Lilith set the photos aside and opened the two drawers. The top was filled with junk from fans. She never liked anything they got because it felt disingenuous to accept gifts from people who looked up to them when their parents were so scummy about everything. She shook the thoughts away and went to the second drawer.

The bottom drawer had some shirts that Lilith gently sat upon the bed. As she did, some letters slid out and she snatched them up. Her eyes darted as she read them, letters addressed to a woman, Priya, in Lucas’ handwriting. As she read, her smile grew. These seemed to be love letters from him to her and it was very sweet to see at least part of Lucas made a life for himself outside the Ranger business with their parents. Unfortunately, the last letter, addressed only to someone identified as V, was less positive in tone. The important things Lilith picked up was that Priya was no longer around and that he missed this person. More importantly, this person couldn’t visit due to safety issues? Seemed odd. That their grandparents were the reason V couldn’t be around. If this was Lucas writing this, then was he writing to his child?!

Lilith felt her heart start racing. She tucked the letters in her purse and and returned the shirts to the drawer. She knew she couldn’t mask her emotions, but she could get her siblings informed to help relieve some of the pressure she was beginning to feel build. Besides, she might just be overthinking things and reading stuff that wasn't actually there. Her siblings would know what to make of it.

“Hey,” Lilith said and approached Morgan, Ginny, and Jared. “I uh, found something else that might be important. But, I’m also concerned about some things June said.” Lilith retold the rough idea of what their caretaker said in the hallway. “She looked paranoid, it seemed like she was worried things were only going to get worse compared to what happened tonight. While I’m glad she confirmed Lucas still cared about us, and these notes also seem to back that up, I’m worried something was happening before… something was going on before Lucas passed away. Oh right, and the things I found.” Lilith stealthily pulled the letters from her purse and showed them to her siblings.

“These were letters he wrote, hidden in his nightstand. He had more going on than what the media was showing. Just, try to see if there’s anything else enlightening here, I’m going to hunt down Theo and make sure he’s alright. We’re going to need to keep our heads on straight and he’s clearly not ok right now. I think Cam and Devin are alright though, they just need some space.” Lilith ended her ramble, realizing she was unloading all the things she was thinking and feeling. While she wasn’t afraid to share these things with her siblings, she didn’t want to add any undue stress. But she also was afraid that someone might be watching them. The feeling of paranoia was contagious.

Lilith hurried out into the hallway and looked around for Theo. She wanted to recommend they go out to the balcony and maybe he could clear his head for a moment. She would be there to listen to anything he needed to get off his chest. Hopefully he wasn’t off hiding somewhere and making things worse for himself.
 

Tangeh

Well-Known Member
Jared Caswell
The Institute - Upstairs Bedrooms


Lilith approached Jared, Ginny, and Morgan, snapping Jared's attention away from the notebook, which he had starting sifting through. He'd concluded that Lucas knew more than he did about his siblings, which brought him a bit of guilt, though his relationships with them as a teen certainly hadn't been as strong as Lucas's had. He always acted like their big brother in the house and their leader on missions. Jared didn't feel that way about Lucas himself, though as an adult he knew Lucas was just being manipulated by their parents...

Lilith went on to describe a conversation she'd had with June in the hallway. “She said that...?” Jared asked quietly, more to himself than to Lilith, when she mentioned how Lucas quickly realized why they'd all gotten away from here the day they were able. That was good... he glanced back at the journal, his eyes locking onto where his name was scrawled out... maybe Lucas really had felt some remorse.

Lilith went on to explain how she was worried something bigger was going on – well, certainly something bigger was going on: Matthew, Renata, and Lucas all passing away at the same time couldn't be a coincidence. Jared let her ramble on, nodding when appropriate. Then Lilith pulled out some more letters – these ones they could read.

The letters looked to be addressed to a woman named Priya – a romantic interest, judging by the intonation. He sifted through them quickly, his eyes feeling too heavy to read much, but his attention locked onto the one addressed to a 'V'. This letter he tried to read a few times over, but kept feeling like he was missing something. It sounded like Lucas had a child with this Priya, but that couldn't be right... could it? Jared mused for a few moments if that was even possible with him living under their parents' regime. Maybe things had been a little different in adulthood – Lucas always was the favourite – but he doubted it.

Lilith rushed out to look for Theo, and Jared turned to leave as well. Honestly, he was exhausted: not just from all of the negative and emotionally draining memories they'd just had to relive, but his internal clock was still synced five and a half hours ahead to Indian time, and it was screaming at him that it was way past his normal bedtime. “Goodnight,” he said to Ginny and Morgan, “try to get some rest.”

What Jared wanted to do was find a quiet area away from everything to meditate and reflect, but he really didn't feel up for it right now. Aside from that, he felt uneasy about leaving the mansion alone. Maybe that was a remnant of childhood, or maybe a bad feeling he had about everything that was going on... So instead, Jared paused at the door to his old bedroom. The doorknob might be more tarnished, the edges of the frame more dusty, but other than that, it was how he remembered it. He took a deep breath and gripped the doorknob, gently turning it and pushing the door open.

A familiar scent hit him and he grimaced. Lavender and jasmine – after all these years? He flipped the light on and glanced around for the diffuser. It was still on his desk. It hadn't been used in years, but he suspected the door of the tiny room hadn't been opened in years either, and the scent had, at this point probably permanently, polluted the small space. A wave of calmness poured over him as he breathed it in, quickly followed by irritation at his body's autonomous response. He'd been conditioned to react to these scents two decades ago... and they still had the same damn effect. The state of the room was at least not how he'd left it – somebody had come in to make his bed and tidy his teenaged possessions after he'd departed.

He walked over to his desk and stared down at a faded world map. He reached down, his thumb brushing over India. His breath caught in his throat – the light in the room suddenly seemed a lot brighter. A loud thud echoed involuntarily across his memory.

"You're not leaving! You're not leaving me!"

Jared flinched and turned to stare at the door – the faint sounds of his siblings celebrating their eighteenth birthday echoed around Sigma and Alpha's final confrontation. He remembered so vividly the knock that shortly followed.

Jared? We're leaving – we're ALL leaving. Either you come with us or you rot here with Alpha!”

Jared glanced at the empty corner of his room – he'd already packed a backpack with clothing and other supplies. Until the moment he heard Marron's voice though, he hadn't been sure if he was actually going to need it. He must have forgotten the map in the moment he made his decision. He'd meant to take it with him.

Jared shook his head and quickly walked out of his bedroom and into the neighbouring bathroom. He steadied his breathing and threw cold water over his face. Figuring he may as well wash up while he was here, he dug out an unused toothbrush from the drawer and tried to complete as normal a nightly routine as he could. He finished with a nightly prayer and headed back to his room.

He grimaced as the overwhelming scent of lavender hit him again – then threw his clothes off, settling himself underneath his covers. He'd barely been lying there a few moments before thoughts that hadn't infiltrated his consciousness since adolescence snaked into his brain. He rolled over, trying to clear his head, but nothing was working. He repeated a prayer mantra silently as Alpha's voice echoed across his subconscious: “We're almost done! Rho, Tau: split off to the left, take care of the last of them. Brilliant work Zeta, let us know if there's any more coming from the back door - ”

Jared sprung back up and retreated back to the bathroom. He threw more cold water on his face and stared at his reflection. His puffy tired eyes conflicted with his thundering heart. Frustrated, he walked back into his room and grabbed the diffuser. He poured the oils down the bathroom sink's drain and rinsed thoroughly, then flushed the container out, threw it in the garbage, and buried it in toilet paper. He walked back into his bedroom – the smell hit him regardless of the diffuser's presence – and pried the window open to air out the tiny space.

The scent didn't seem to be the main problem, though. His head had barely hit the pillow before the feeling of dread reappeared, and no mind-clearing techniques he could think of were helping. “Roger that Zeta – we need an escape point, now. Chi, get in position - ” Jared squeezed his eyes tighter. When had this even happened? He couldn't remember. He couldn't stop it. He couldn't - “Countdown start – pent - ”

Jared sprung up again, gasping as his heart rate instantly skyrocketed. He rushed into the bathroom yet again to throw more water onto his face. He stared at himself, his eyes wide and his expression strained. His chest heaved rapidly for several seconds, but slowly he got his breathing to even out. He repeated a few Hindu verses to himself and tried to restabilize his mind.

No. That was too close. This was too dangerous.

He walked back into his room and flicked the light on. He dug into his old clothing drawer, trying to find something from the bottom that wouldn't be as contaminated with the smell of lavender. He'd always preferred sleeping without pajamas on, so wasn't sure if there would be any in here, but low and behold - bunched at the bottom were matching indigo pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It was a nice soft silky material, definitely meant to be used as pajamas. He couldn't remember wearing them, and when he pulled them out, he realized why. His brow furrowed; the back of the shirt had a giant white X on the back of it. Chi. ...Why did he own these? Maybe a corporate sponsor had donated them or something. There was still a tag on them.

As far as Jared could tell, the pants didn't have any obscene markings on them. They were just generic indigo bottoms. He ripped the tag off and slipped them on. They were loose, even after Jared tightened them up a bit with the drawstring, but they were comfortable. He omitted the top: he was pretty sure his siblings would be more offended by the chi symbol than they would from him being shirtless.

He flicked his bedroom light off, left the room, and closed the door behind him. He blinked, taking a second to let his eyes adjust, then walked over to the couches and settled himself on top of one. He was a little nervous at first, waiting patiently to see if the thoughts would resurface. Fortunately, his mind was still, and much more receptive to his normal sleep routine. It didn't take his overtired body long to drift off to sleep shortly thereafter.
 

GoldenHouou

antagoonist
Theodore Caswell
Bedroom Area > Dining Hall > Bedroom Area


In the end, Theo did not find fresh air.

The first distraction came in the form of a bathroom; passing by one, it occurred to him that cold water might provide some relief as well. So he slipped in, locked the door, and flinched at the sight of the man in the mirror. Though it was less noticeable than it had likely been during the incident downstairs, his face was paler than usual. Somehow, he looked much older too; like a man who'd been deprived of sleep for a few days too many. Unfortunately, he doubted sleep would come easy tonight - if at all.

Theo doused his face with water, but it didn't make him feel - or look - any more well-rested. It did help clear his mind though, if only a little. He shook his head. He'd better go find that window now, before everyone else was done with the room and started their evening routines. What was the time anyhow? Surely, it had to be evening by now.

As Theo reached for his pocket, he was met with the next distraction: the sudden realization that his cell was missing. A rushed pat around his pockets yielded no results, so he ran a hand through his hair and mentally retraced his steps. He hadn't used it in Lucas's room. When had he seen it last?

Downstairs, Theo concluded. When the impostor had threatened to take it. He must've dropped it. With a sigh, Theo opened the bathroom door and headed for the stairs.

Returning to the dining hall was more daunting a task than he'd anticipated. Though the table had been cleaned by now, the atmosphere created by fake Lucas's appearance lingered. Theo found himself glancing over his shoulder every so often, half-expecting to find a hand reaching towards him.

His phone was found under the table. The Janets must've accidentally kicked it there while cleaning. Thankfully, it was not stepped upon and seemed to work fine. Even the number he'd dialed was still there; 999, the number for emergencies. Briefly, he thought of placing a call. It was only the daunting task of having to explain what had happened that kept him from doing so. How could he state his emergency, when he didn't understand the details of it himself?

With phone in tow, Theo returned upstairs. As he did, he found a familiar figure looking around the hallway.

"Lilith?" He approached her with worry weaved into his surprised tone. "Is something the matter?"
 
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VampirateMace

Internet Overlord
Dr. Morgan Caswell
(Upstairs > Dining Room > Upstairs) The Institute, Cambridgeshire


Done perusing the the notebook, Morgan set it gently down so the others had access to it. He had not been surprised that Lucas knew his address, he hadn't tried to hide at all, but Jared seemed to be much more shaken. . . then Lilith drew their attention to some letters Lucas had shared with someone named simply V. Morgan could glimpse these over his sibling's shoulders, and got enough from this and the surrounding conversation to glean that Lucas might have had a lovechild of sorts.

People started leaving the room, with Jared telling him and Ginny to get some rest. Morgan nodded, he knew what he meant. Between the emotional maelstrom of current events and the looming shadows of the past, it might be a rough night. He headed out of Lucas' room, not paying much mind to those in the hall/common area. He returned to the room he shared with the girls, a living arrangement that he now knew would have been bizarre in any other household, and checked on the computer. It had come on, but the screen was garbage, and he wasn't sure if the monitor itself or the hard-drive had failed, or some other component. . . maybe the graphics card or a capacitor. The fan was going crazy too, blowing out dust. He turned off the screen and turned it back on. Still garbage. He held the power button, shutting off the machine, and sighed.

He still planned to visit the dining room again, but he felt like he should wait until the others were asleep. So, instead he shed his coat and tossed it on-top of his backpack. At least he had an excuse right here, he could clear the dust out of the computer and check the components. Might even take his mind off things for a bit. He pulled open his desk drawer, and as he expected, he found his tools right where he'd left them. He unplugged the computer, moved the monitor out of the way, and started unscrewing the casing.

After it finally seemed like everyone had settled down, Morgan glanced behind him and checked that the other inhabitants of their room seemed to be asleep. He set down his current tool and carefully eased out of his chair. Quietly he slipped out of the room and downstairs. The house was even eerier in the dark and quiet. Quickly he hurried along to the dinning room. It looked like the Janets had cleared away everything from dinner, which he knew meant someone could have cleared away any evidence of what had truly caused the phantasmal Lucas, but he still had to look.

He went and looked from where the ghost had stood, scanning the ceiling and walls for anything that might act as a projector. Then he turned his attention to the curtains and window frames. One of the glass panes was cracked, but there didn't seem to be anything else unusual. Standards in the house must really have slipped after they’d left, Matthew and Renata would never have allowed all these shoddy repairs. He moved over and felt under the edge of the table, then knelt down and simply looked at the underside. Nothing. Then he looked at the light fixtures and such from other angles, just anything he could think of really, until he just really couldn't think of anything else to check.

He returned their room, moving his coat and backpack on the desk chair and changing into his wrinkled pajamas. The girls should be asleep and they'd shared this room so long, he wasn't really embarrassed about if his sisters saw his underwear anyways. It was being vulnerable in front of other women (and men, if he was ever honest with himself), potential mates in scientific terms, that terrified him. Pushing these thoughts out of his head as best he could, he pulled back the blanket and top sheet and got into bed. It was late, if he was anywhere else, he imagined he'd be sleeping well after such a long day, but he was in the one place he'd never wanted to return to, and his mind was reeling.
 

Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Ranger Bedrooms, The Institute

Too caught up in browsing through the letters Theo had found, Ginny almost didn't hear Lilith when she slipped into the room. She only noticed her sister, when she heard one of the drawers opening to his nightstand, and noticed Lilith investigating. Ginny said nothing for the moment and continued to look through the notes, not wanting to disturb Lilith. It wasn't long afterwards that she approached them anyway. “Hey,” Lilith said as she approached the three of them. “I uh, found something else that might be important. But, I’m also concerned about some things June said.” Lilith would then give a brief rundown of what June had said. In truth, Ginny wasn't sure what to make of all that was said but did find some comfort in knowing that Lucas apparently didn't hate them.

And Lilith dropped a possible bombshell. She handed the letters she had found to the three of them and hinted that Lucas had more going on than the media knew. And she wasn't wrong. These letters seemed more romantic in tone than the others they had been reading, even downright suggestive in some, but the last of them was more sombre in tone addressed to someone only known as 'V'. What was more shocking was that the letter seemed to imply that this 'V' was the child of Lucas. That revelation alone seemed to rock Ginny to her core, and as a mother herself, her heart ached. The thought of Mira growing up without her parents was distressing, and she couldn't imagine what it would be like for this 'V'. She did not linger long in the room after that, feeling too worn down and mentally exhausted by what had happened earlier, and what they had found in Lucas's room to say much else. She retreated to the comfort of the room she shared with Cameron, and after changing into something a little more comfortable, slipped into her old bed, and curled up against one of her old teddy bears.

~~
Midnight

It was the middle of the night when two figures ascended the stairs leading to the Ranger's bedrooms - a young man and woman. The woman moved with a spring in her step, too excitable and happy for what they had planned, but the man moved more slowly, carefully placing his feet to ensure the stairs would not creak.

"You're getting slow, Upsilon," The woman teased, waiting for him at the top of the stairs. The man merely shrugged his shoulders, offering a small smirk in response. As he reached the top of the stairs, his companion moved to open the door that would lead to the closed-off wing, but he put out an arm, stopping her from doing so. When she looked at him questioningly, he merely shook his head. "One of them is on the sofa," He explained. "If you go prancing in there, you'll give us away."

The woman sniffed. "Rude."

"No matter. I can do what needs to be done from out here." He said, before holding his hands out, and closing his eyes. The woman studied him carefully. "Are you sure? After your little stunt at dinner, you might be pushing yourself."

"I'm fine, Kappa," The man responded curtly. "It's true all those minds to focus on were pushing the limits of what I could do, but this is easier now, there are fewer people around. And I have the added benefit of them all being asleep - some aren't in deep sleep though, so I will need to be careful with how I play this. Now, let me focus."

In his mind's eye, the man envisioned a large dog beyond the door - a wolfhound to be exact. The beast made its way down the corridor first, sniffing under the doors of the bedrooms. He even added in the odd growl for good measure. At the rooms of those not in deep sleep, he made sure to have the dog scratch at the door, making it appear as though it was trying to get in. Of course, it wasn't, but they didn't know that. And now for the one on the sofa. The dog trotted around and stood in front of where Jared was lay. If he was awake he might have felt the sensation of the hound sniffing him, the warmth of its breath, or even the faint panting. He kept the beast there for a few minutes, before leading into the dark shadows cast by the room where it appeared to disappear into nothingness.

Outside the door, the man opened his eyes.

"Is it done?" The woman asked.

The man nodded. "Come let us return to the sanctum. We should not linger here any longer than necessary. Beta will have our heads if we ruin her game before it truly begins."

"Indeed." The woman nodded in agreement. As they moved to leave, she turned to blow a mocking kiss towards the door. "Good night, Rangers. Sleep well."

~~

Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute

Ginny was the first to find herself seated at the dining room table that morning. After the events of yesterday, it felt a little strange to be in here again, and she couldn't help but feel a little jumpy at any sudden noises she heard, half expecting to see some ghostly apparition of Lucas stood there again. The breakfast spread wasn't anything fancy, but the Janets and June had made an effort to lay out the table nicely, and it all smelled divine. There were three separate racks of toast, individual plates of sausages and bacon, a bowl of baked beans, various forms of cooked eggs, hash browns, at least seven different varieties of cereals, two pots of breakfast tea, a pot of herbal tea, and a cafetiere of coffee.

One of the Janets had served her, as June was elsewhere when she first arrived. Ginny was tucking into some eggs and soldiers when June appeared.

"This is quite the spread, June!" Ginny laughed, making a gesture of what was on offer.

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" June responded with a small chuckle. She moved to make herself a cup of coffee. As she poured, she looked over at Ginny. "How did you sleep, dear?"

Ginny swallowed her mouthful before answering. "I slept okay. I was pretty tired after everything that happened yesterday, so I fell asleep pretty quickly. However, I did hear some strange noises last night. I don't know if I dreamt it or not, but it was very strange..."

June arched a brow. "Well, I'm not sure what that might have been. Maybe the radiators? Or maybe it was windy last night? I don't remember much either I'm afraid, I took some sleeping pills, and went out like a light."

"Mhm, maybe." Ginny mused. She said little else after this and went back to her breakfast, wondering when her siblings would arrive. She also wondered whether they had heard any unusual noises in the night too? Time would tell.
 

Monster Guy

Fairy type Trainer
Cameron Caswell
The Institute
West Wing Dining Room


♪Oh what a beautiful mooooorning! Oh what a beautiful daaaaay!♪ Cameron sang loudly as he came to the dining room that morning. He was still dressed in his pink kitty cat onesie pajamas that he had gone to bed in the night before. "Oh, good morning everyone!" He waved to Ginny, the Janets, and June. He was apparently the second person up today. When he saw what was available for breakfast, he frowned for a brief moment. "Aw poop! I had a craving for pancakes today..." He shrugged his shoulders, and smiled again. "Oh well!" He went back to humming a tune as he picked out his food.

Cameron prepared himself a plate of sunny side up eggs, toast, bacon, and a bowl of some sugary cereal he liked. To drink, he had a regular glass of milk.

Cameron dipped a slice of toast into the egg yolk, then bit on it. As he did, June spoke to him. "You seem chipper. I take it you slept well?"

Cameron nodded, then swallowed the bit of toast he was eating before speaking. "Oh absolutely, I slept great! It was like being in my own bed at home! I only woke up once. I heard some weird noises in the middle of the night. They went away quickly, and after that, I slept like a baby the rest of the night!" He then went back to eating the rest of the toast.

June raised an eyebrow. "Really, that's interesting..."
 

Tangeh

Well-Known Member
Jared Caswell
The Institute - Upstairs Bedrooms


Jared roused sometime late enough that the room was dark and still, his brothers and sisters likely still in bed. He squinted at a clock mounted at the end of the room – just after midnight. Huh. He'd hoped he was exhausted enough to sleep longer than that, but 6am was when he typically woke up at home, so time zones taken into account, he supposed that was...

A faint growling noise caught Jared's attention. He listened intently for a few moments, then passed the noise off as nothing and closed his eyes to settle back to sleep. At least, until he heard a loud scratching noise – and then another loud scratching noise – and then another. Claws clicked on the hardwood floor in between each room, but Jared couldn't see what he presumed was a dog in the low light. Weird – Matthew and Renata definitely weren't animal people (they weren't even people people). Maybe Lucas had one (wasn't any more of a stretch than his alleged secret child), or maybe a stray had wandered inside? Alright, weird, but not sleep prohibiting.

Jared rolled onto his side and tried to still his mind. He focused on breathing slowly, listening to the sound of his gentle exhales. He became abruptly aware of another, more rapid breath disturbingly close to him, and cracked open an eye. Well, there was his dog confirmation – Gods, it was huge too. The beast stood overtop of him, sniffing curiously at him and panting. “Uh... hi,” Jared said, his voice tired and cracking. He slowly reached out a closed fist to let the dog become familiar with his scent, but it backed away from him. Jared tried to ignore it and go back to sleep, and eventually he heard it paw away.

He slipped back into sleep not long afterwards, awakening at a much more reasonable time – 4am. Well, that was probably as good as he was going to get – and besides, he could use some time alone before his siblings got up. He showered (a clean modern shower was a nice change) and changed back into his clothes, trying to be quiet as not to wake his brothers and sisters. They needed rest, and he needed to reflect. He walked unperturbed back into his old bedroom. It had caused him so much stress just a couple of hours prior, and he needed to reflect on why. He needed to reflect on Lucas, on his parents, on his siblings, and on this whole situation in general.

So he sat cross-legged on his old bed and spent the next two hours in intense prayer and meditation. Every time he felt anxiety he tried to find the root cause and spend some time reflecting on it. It was a method he'd spent his entire adulthood perfecting.

Eventually he heard his siblings starting to stir outside, exiting their rooms and making their way downstairs. Jared didn't always eat breakfast, but he was starving right now. Likely the lack of calories last night combined with the jetlag. So he was quick to join them, following Cameron down the stairs then awkwardly trailing behind as his brother burst into song and joyfully waved at the others. “Good morning,” Jared greeted politely, if blandly in comparison to Cameron's entrance, and sat next to Ginny. The staff had laid out a marvelous buffet – it was nothing like his breakfast cuisine at home, but he really didn't care right now. He poured himself a bowl of cornflakes, with plans at tackling some toast, beans, and potatoes afterwards.

Cameron started talking about hearing weird noises last night, and Jared glanced at him as June raised an eyebrow. “It was probably the dog,” Jared suggested nonchalantly as he reached for the milk and began pouring that into his cereal. “There was a dog wandering around last night. It woke me up too.” He then reached for the tea, and paused and glanced around, checking if the dog was in the kitchen to prove his point. “Not sure where it went off to – I can't remember seeing it yesterday at all.” He glanced at June, expecting her to explain that it was Lucas's old pet, or something to that effect.
 

VampirateMace

Internet Overlord
Dr. Morgan Caswell
(Upstairs > Dining Room) The Institute, Cambridgeshire


Morgan rolled over so he was facing the wall. He could almost pretend he was home, almost - at home his walls weren't this color, his bed didn't smells this musty, and he couldn't hear someone else breathing. He was only just lightly asleep when something pawed at the door. Morgan opened his eyes a crack and groaned, not registering what had awoken him until a moment later. Then he clutched his blanket tightly, listening to what definitely sounded like an animal outside the door. It sounded kind of big in fact. He found himself almost paralyzed with indecision. Should he get up and check it out? Should he barricade their door? Should he pull the blankets over his head and pray for morning, or death? Okay maybe that was overly dramatic.

Eventually he heard it pad off and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't his problem anymore and he didn't have to make it his problem. Hopefully his siblings wouldn't make it their problem either, and maybe it would just go away. . . He didn't get much more sleep after that.

In the Morning Morgan changed into his spare set of clothes, less dressy and much more wrinkled. Trying to smooth out his shirt he wondered if it was time to invest in a suitcase of some sort. This wasn't the kind of trip he'd wanted to go on, but maybe when he got a chance to go somewhere he wanted to, or at least travel for work, it'd be nice to have clothes that hadn't been wadded up in a backpack with a bunch of books and magazines. After that he grabbed his toothbrush and made his way to the restroom to freshen up a little bit more before heading downstairs to breakfast. He knew there would be breakfast of course, it had been treated as so important during their time here he was still in the habit of eating it, even though he was aware a lot of his colleges and students didn't. Though he did eat a lot less for breakfast than he used to. Plus, he sure could use some caffeine after last night.

He trudged into the dining room. June, Ginny, Cameron, and Jared were already down there eating. And talking, Morgan had arrived just in time to hear Jared say there was dog wandering around last night, but that he wasn't sure where it was now. He sat down and reached for the coffee, ignoring the Janet trying to serve him, and filled his cup half-way. He replied to Jared with slight embarrassment, “Is that what it was? I was worried some sort wild animal had gotten in.”

He filled the other half of his cup liberally with cream and sugar to help mellow out the flavor of the coffee, he was sure it wasn't good coffee, and he wasn't even that fond of good coffee. After a couple sips he selected a piece of toast and spread it with marmalade, noting that Cameron already had a full plate of food and a bowl of cereal. Though considering he literally bounced off walls and jumped on furniture, Cam probably needed the calories.
 

Skillfulness

Well-Known Member
Lilith O'Neil Caswell
The Institute, Cambridgeshire - Ranger Bedrooms


“Theo!” He had appeared at the end of the hall and looked worried, asking if something was wrong. She quickly shook her head and smiled. “No, no, nothing wrong. Well, June seemed a little stressed, but who wouldn’t be? No, I wanted to make sure you were doing ok. Do you want to talk? You don’t have to tell me anything, but just to get anything off your chest? We could go to one of our rooms or the balcony if you preferred.” Honestly, Lilith would almost prefer the balcony. Even though the comments made by June were her only thing to go off, the paranoia was contagious. It felt like eyes were on her and she was afraid to say anything too personal or secret until they were in a different area.

“I’m quite fine, just needed a little breather,” he said, smiling. She furrowed her brow at him, but stayed silent. She really wished he wouldn’t lie to her, but if it made him feel better, she would simply be there for him. Lilith really thought after years of growing up together he would understand he could tell the truth around her. Or that at least she would understand if he didn’t want to say something. He must know by now that she could tell.

“I don’t think there’s anything in particular I’d like to get off my chest, but I won’t turn down the company.”

“Alright, I’ll join you.” The two of them started walking down the hall where the balcony was. She remembered many a night there trying to keep her emotions in check, away from her siblings. They were silent for a few moments before he spoke up again.

“He wasn’t lying. The… ‘Lucas’ we saw.” Lilith waited, as much as she was shocked and wanted to say something. “He wasn’t lying when he said Nathan could’ve saved him, had he been more attentive.They’ve been awfully tight-lipped about the details of… of Lucas and the Casewell’s passing. I wonder what they aren’t telling us - and why.” She nodded along with him and looked concerned. She felt concerned. Maybe her paranoia about June was actually genuine. First and foremost though…

“Oh Theo, I’m so sorry you had to learn that and that it’s been eating away at you. Try not to worry ok? We’ll get this-” Lilith stopped herself. She truly didn’t think they would figure this out and she didn’t want to lie and cause Theo unnecessary stress. Change your words, you know how to do this. “I hope we’ll get this all figured out, but I’m not sure.” She turned away and rubbed her arms anxiously. While the news that the imposter wasn’t lying only furthered her unease, Lilith was still more worried about their siblings. This time was going to be difficult without all the complications. Were they in danger? She shooed away the thoughts with an imaginary duster and turned back to her brother who chuckled.

“I hope so too,” He said. he seemed to be enjoying the fresh air so Lilith took a second to do the same. Eyes closed, she took some steady breaths and leaned on the railing to the balcony. “Lily I--” he stopped himself and she turned quickly to him. Theo looked like he was struggling to find words. “...No, never mind. I’m sorry. Thank you for accompanying me, you’ve always had a calming presence about you.” A smile came and the words stopped. She smiles back, a slightly sad and bitter one. While she was glad he seemed to share and open up for a moment, she supposed she shouldn't have gotten her hopes up that he would share everything. Sighing, she accepts that Theo will just be Theo and she will have to keep being her.

“It’s alright Theo, I just want you to know you aren’t alone here. I’m happy to help, whatever you need. Even if it is just my calming presence.” Lilith spread her arms out semi-dramatically and giggled. Anxiety still nagged within her, but she wasn’t planning on showing it for one second. These siblings of hers were going through the same terrible situation she was and they were holding it together just fine. She was tired of being the emotional one to drag things down and Theo was showing her it was ok to hide things. The rest of her stay here she decided she would try to hide her feelings in order to make things easier for everyone while they were together.

“It’s getting late,” Theo said, gesturing back to the hallway, “we should probably get some rest. I hope we’ll know more come tomorrow.” His confidence was refreshing and Lilith hoped their little visit had helped. They strolled back towards the bedrooms, most siblings already setting up in their beds or doing nighttime rituals.

“Sleep well bro, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.” Lilith stops, mouth half open to speak her next words. One could almost see the gears turning in her head to make sure she was careful with what came out. “I’ll be here for anything you need, short of something illegal, even if you are a lawyer.” She gave him a playful nudge and hoped what she said wasn’t a lie. Sometimes it’s a fine line, but she likes to think she would help her siblings in just about any situation.

“G’night!” Lilith waved to her brother and shuffled off to her own room. She didn’t realize how late it was and it seemed Morgan was already there tucked into bed. Quietly, she took her things to the bathroom to prepare herself for bed; she washed her face, brushed her teeth and as each minute passed her fatigue increased. All night she had been pushing aside her exhaustion to get through to the next thin. Now that all the things were done, she realized how tired she really was. Once she finished, changed into her comfy pajamas, she returned to the room and slipped under the covers of her own bed. Morgan had his back towards the room so she assumed he was asleep, but she quietly whispered goodnight regardless, just in case. After that, it was a quick minute and she was out like a light.

~ The following day ~

The next morning, Lilith awoke after a perfectly peaceful sleep. Though normally she was a fairly light sleeper--having to work with kids made one sensitive to things--apparently yesterday’s events were enough to have her mind and body go nearly comatose for 8 hours. This was very fortunate considering she had no good expectations for what this morning would hold. She rolled over in time to see Morgan slip out with his own toiletries so it must not be too late in the morning. He was usually prompt about such things.

With the room empty, Lilith decided to take a moment of meditation to start her day. On especially stressful days, her therapist suggested a short meditation session to start or end her day. Since yesterday was a stress-fest and today would likely be more of the same (or worse, she shuddered at the thought), she got up from bed and sat herself on the floor of the bedroom. Hopefully Morgan wouldn’t come back to question what she was doing. She allowed her thoughts to pass through her mind, never lingering on them and not letting them change her state, her emotions. It wasn’t easy, with all the things going on and her closeness to them, but eventually she was satisfied with her calm and resumed getting ready for the day.

Lilith bounced down the stairs, staying cheerful as she smelled some delicious breakfast freshly cooked. Morgan had made his way down already and Ginny, June, and Cameron were also around the table. Janets were serving food and Lilith looked longingly at all the food spread before her. There was no sign of Nathan though and a slight pang of worry hit her gut.

“Good morning all, how are we doing today?” Lilith addressed the room with a smile before picking up a plate and hovering around the table. She picked up some scrambled eggs, hash browns, toast, and bacon. Sitting down, she buttered her toast quietly while simply being present with her siblings.
 
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GoldenHouou

antagoonist
Theodore Caswell
Bedroom Area


"Theo!" Lilith answered, "No, no, nothing wrong. Well, June seemed a little stressed, but who wouldn’t be? No, I wanted to make sure you were doing ok. Do you want to talk? You don’t have to tell me anything, but just to get anything off your chest? We could go to one of our rooms or the balcony if you preferred."

Ah, she was worried for him. Worrying his siblings seemed to have become a theme as of late. He had to be better than this. "I'm quite fine, just needed a little breather," Theo assured her, smiling through the pang in his gut. "I don't think there's anything in particular I'd like to get off my chest," another pang, "but I won't turn down company."

He started towards where he remembered the balcony to be. "He wasn't lying," he said out of the blue after a while. Perhaps he needed to talk after all. "The... 'Lucas' we saw. He wasn't lying when he said Nathan could've saved him, had he been more attentive. They've been awfully tight-lipped about the details of... of Lucas and the Caswells's passing. I wonder what they aren't telling us - and why."

Lilith furrowed her brow. "Alright I'll join you." She followed, then soon continued: "Oh Theo, I'm so sorry you had to learn that and that it's been eating away at you. Try not to worry, ok? We'll get this-" she paused, "I hope we'll get this all figured out, but I'm not sure."

Theo noticed Lilith catching herself mid-sentence, and chuckled knowingly - if a bit melancholically. "I hope so too." Theo took a good minute to just breathe in the fresh air, growing increasingly aware of the DVD he had pocketed. He hesitated. Should he tell her? He felt awful keeping things from her, and yet... "Lily, I--" he turned to his sister, but the words didn't come. It made for hard viewing, Lucas had said. "...No, never mind. I'm sorry. Thank you for accompanying me, you've always had a calming presence about you." He offered her a smile in lieu of words, then gestured back the way they'd come from. "It's getting late, we should probably get some rest. I hope we'll know more come tomorrow." At the very least, he would. He'd make sure of that.

"It's alright Theo, I just want you to know you aren't alone here. I'm happy to help, whatever you need. Even if it is just my calming presence." She spread her arms dramatically and giggled. "Sleep well bro, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself." She paused again, and Theo could guess why, "I'll be here for anything you need, short of something illegal, even if you are a lawyer. G'night!"

"Goodnight!"

After parting ways with Lilith, Theo headed for his room - but not to sleep. He intended to wait until everyone else had fallen asleep, and then find a way to watch the DVD somewhere private. He loathed to carry the cursed thing around. He could swear that every second he kept it hidden, it became that much heavier.

Theo did not expect to be assaulted by a hurricane of emotions the second he opened his door. His old room was exactly as he'd left it all those years ago - books, pictures, furniture, all stuck in time. He could still see himself, aged eighteen, sitting on the bed, gaze downcast. Marron was there, too.

--​
Zeta's Bedroom
Twelve years ago


"We're leaving, Theo," Marron declared from the doorway, frustrated, impatient - worried. Theo heard the clink of car keys in her hand. "And I'm not leaving without you."

"We could still fix things," Theo insisted, unable to look up at his sister. He didn't want to see her determined expression. It made things feel all too final. If Marron decided something, she saw it through. She'd always been like that. "We're... a family."

"Yeah, we are. But they," Theo saw the shadow of her hand make a vague gesture, and knew she meant the Caswells, "aren't a part of it."

"They shouldn't be, no... but I..." Theo trailed off, words stuck under the lump in his throat. He didn't want to cry. Little boys cried. Today, he'd become an adult, even if he did not feel like one. On the contrary, he was more lost than he'd ever been before - caught between turbulent freedom and familiar captivity. He couldn't decide which was scarier. "Lucas said things would work out. That things could be fixed. If we just tal--"

"And you trust him?" It sounded more like an accusation than a question.

Theo's answer was a surprised, defensive, "I do." He looked up, hoping in vain to match Marron's determination with his own.

Her face softened at the sight of his eyes. She wasn't buying his lie. She never did. When she spoke again, she didn't sound accusing - only worried, "More than me?"

"Of course not!"

"Then trust me and come on. The others are waiting."

Theo trusted her.


--​

Lucas' Room
Night


Theodore never wanted to act behind his siblings' backs.

He did so anyway.

Huddled in the back of Lucas' room, Theo set the portable DVD player he'd acquired on his lap - and with a deep breath, hit play. What he saw unfold was a familiar scene; the video he'd seen played at the trial. Only, this one seemed to be of better quality - the one he'd seen prior had kept cutting off.

Even so, he knew how it would end.

It was painful to see Marron again, even if only on a video. She seemed more like the person he'd known than the Marron he'd met at the trial. Theo's thoughts threatened to trail off, and he quickly shook his head to refocus on the screen. At Marron in her office, scolding an unknown man. At Marron when she was left to nervously pace and then start to type things he couldn't see. At Marron, when... when he came in.

This was a part Theo had not seen before.

Garret wasn't wearing his mask when he waltzed into the room, even if the rest of his costume was as Theo remembered it. Interesting. So unlike the theories thrown about court, she had not touched his mask. He asked Marron to talk about 'those people', whomever they were - casual, nonthreatening, one sibling to another.

Theo bit his lip, fingers gripping his chin. So then, why? His eyes trailed to the time stamp. In a little over ten minutes, why would she...

Marron's reaction to seeing Garret answered his question - and brought about a dozen more. She did not react like a sister would to her brother. She fell off her chair, scared, demanding to know who the man was. Garret answered. It didn't placate her.

Theo paused the video, face tight. With the video's sound gone, he could hear the beat of his own heart in the silence of the room. He didn't understand. What was going on? Why was she reacting as if-- as if he was a stranger, and a threatening one at that?

Was it because... because that's what she saw?

He hit play with a trembling finger, eager and terrified to know more. He knew the ending. Now, he had to know what escalated the situation to that point.

Garret's physical way to handle the situation, it seemed. He grabbed Marron's shoulders to calm her - and Theo could do nothing but watch in muffled horror as the two eventually exchanged words for blows. Theo wanted to scream. He wanted to shout at his siblings to make them stop, but the screen that separated him and them was infinite and impenetrable.

Even in such poor quality, the gunshot was deafening.

But unlike at the court, the video did not end there. Theo held his breath as he watched Marron's expression change. From anger to confusion - from fear for own her life to the fear for his. She threw away her gun and knelt besides her brother, begging, pleading him to not be dead. When she realized her words were of no use, she broke down unlike he'd ever seen before. Theo reached a hand to touch the screen, as if to try and wipe at her tears. They didn't stop.

"It wasn't you... It wasn't you. I didn't shoot you. It was a monster I swear it! I wouldn't kill you... I wouldn't... I wouldn't." Theo heard her say on the video, and all of a sudden he found himself standing in court, staring her down.

"I didn't do it!" she'd said that day, staring back at him. "You know me, Theo!"

Theo grasped at his head to try and disperse the memory, but it refused to fade. He saw his past self's lips move. He saw the words come out. He heard them ring in his head.

"I know you're lying."

In his panic, Theo pushed the portable player aside. It opened to reveal the DVD - with "SHE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH" written on it in bright red letters.

--​

Theodores' Room
Midnight

Theo did not sleep soundly that night. By the time he got to his bed, it was close to midnight. He'd caught Jared sleeping on the couch in the hallway, and that alone had nearly startled him out of his wits.

So when he heard the patter of feet outside his door, Theo was sure he was losing his mind.

"Please. Go away," he pleaded from underneath his covers, head buried between two pillows. If only he'd known the horrors contained within the DVD, perhaps he would've waken up early to watch it instead. He couldn't imagine sleeping with Marron's pained expression burned into his mind.

"I did what I had to," Theo argued, words muffled by the mattress. "I acted according to-- according to what I..."

Something scratched at his door.

Theo sat up. And as his mouth opened for a gasp, out slipped the words he'd been trying to hide, "I trusted my powers!"

"More than me?" He heard Marron ask. This time, he could not bring himself to answer.

The noises behind his door eventually faded. His guilt never did.

--​

Dining Room
Morning


Come morning, Theo felt more tired than the evening before. He had chosen a seat close to the door, gaze constantly flickering between his toast and the windows at the other side of the room. He was many things at the moment, but hungry was not one of them. The only reason he forced toast down his throat was because he knew he needed to. If he wanted to ever make sense out of what he'd seen on the DVD last night, he had to keep himself fed.

Theo poured himself a second cup of black coffee. When he heard Ginny mention strange noises, he nearly spilled it over.

"You too?" he blurted out, sounding a bit too surprised for the occasion. He'd been convinced it was his conscience keeping him awake - but if the others had heard it too, it must've been something concrete. This was the part where his inquisitiveness would've dictated he investigate - but he had no such strength. Not yet.

Jared piped up next, explaining he'd seen a dog wander around last night and supposing the noises were made by it.

"A dog?" Theo repeated in tired disbelief. Jared wasn't lying - that's what his powers told him. But his powers had also told him that Marron was--

With a quick shake of his head, he turned to June. "Did the Caswells keep a dog? This is the first I've heard of it."

Had his voice always sounded that raspy?

Wordlessly, Theo reached for the coffee.
 
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Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute

Soon more of her siblings began to appear downstairs. Chipper as always, Cameron was first to arrive downstairs. Ginny was glad to see him in good spirits, though it would have been unlike him to have been troubled by anything. Even June commented that he seemed in good spirits, assuming he had slept well during the night. Tp Ginny's surprise, and June as well, he had heard noises in the night too. The situation became even more strange - and interesting - when this was a story echoed by many of the siblings who were the first ones present at breakfast. The strangest thing of all was what Jared said.

“It was probably the dog,” He suggested nonchalantly as he reached for the milk to pour over his cereals. “There was a dog wandering around last night. It woke me up too. Not sure where it went off to – I can't remember seeing it yesterday at all." He glanced at June as he said this, almost expecting her to give a reasonable explanation for this, but she seemed just as confused by the situation as they were. The theory of a dog was certainly interesting, but as Jared had said himself, Ginny could not recall having seen any signs of a dog living here. And surely after how long they spent here yesterday, they would have seen even the smallest signs of it or been told about one living here by the staff.

It was Theo who asked the question they were all now beginning to wonder. "Did the Caswells keep a dog? This is the first I've heard of it."

"I don't understand any of this," June said, frowning as she spoke. The old maid began to wring her hands in front of her. "This doesn't make any sense. Your mot- Renata was allergic to dogs. She would have never allowed any in the house."

"So what did we all hear last night?" Ginny asked. Before she could get an answer from June they were interrupted by the arrival of another member of the staff entering into the dining room. The man in question was named Pedro, a tall, lithe figure of a man, with bronzed skin, hazel eyes and dark brown hair which was beginning to go grey around the temples. He had been one of the more recent arrivals at the Institute before they left, only having been in their lives for two years before they had left. Rather than say any words of greeting to the group, his first move was to march straight up to June. "I swear these things get worse and worse the longer we work here," He huffed, only a faint trace of his native Spanish accent lining his words.

June raised a brow. "Pardon?"

Pedro turned and gestured to the Janet who was stood off to the side. "I've been trying to get a message to you for ten minutes," He explained. He looked at the Janet with an exasperated expression, before it softened ever so slightly. "Ah, #28...say no more. She's been known to have relay issues. Nathan ignored me when I suggested we repair her last year, but apparently, Mr Caswell did not want to "waste resources"."

"Ahem," June coughed, tilting her head towards the group as if to remind him they were there. "You had a message, Pedro?"

Pedro turned on the spot to give the group an apologetic glance, before continuing. Clearly, whatever message he had to say involved them too. "The representative from the solicitors is here to discuss the wills."

"Wills? As in more than one?" Ginny prompted, looking at Pedro to be certain she heard him correctly.

"There are two," Pedro confirmed. "Or at least there were. Your parents had one, and Lucas was writing one of his own after what happened to Priya. I think he wanted to make sure that Yash-"

But before he could finish, June nudged him, glaring at him to be quiet.
 
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Schade

Hide and Seek
Devin Caswell
The Institute
Bedroom Area -> Dining Room


It had been nice for Devin to spend the night on his own. While he was very curious about the throng of mysteries his siblings wre sorting out, and admittedly a little bit interested in trying to talk to some of them, he had decided to spend the night alone. There were still many impressions and emotions for him to sort out, and he had always been able to do that sort of thing when alone, as he was quick to be rash or impulsive if he confided in others. He didn't really know why he had taken the initiative to clean his room though; he had always hated doing so growing up, only doing so after constant nagging by Matthew, or if Lucas told him to do so in order to avoid punishment from neat freak Renata's wrath. Regardless, it had become a habit for him, and while he was cleaning up the scene from where he knocked Lucas out all those years ago, he decided he would try and be more involved in the process going on in the institute, at least until they got everything sorted out.

He turned in early that night. Hoping he would catch some Z's and wake up refreshed and renewed by the morning. That did, in fact, not happen. At all. How much did he actually sleep that night? Maybe like.. 2 hours on and off. His mind was racing more than ever, and he was plagued with guilt, anxiety, anger and an overwhelming urge to just flee. It was like he was 18 again, with some recurring emotions, blended in with the new ones like a good non-alcoholic gelatinous slushie of muck. Back then, he hadn't thought of how his siblings might've felt, but during the time he spent with them the day before, he had gotten a decent view on hos they all tackled the siuation, and honestly it only added to the guilt he was already trying to suppress.

It didn't help out a lot either that as he was almost about to drift off into sweet slumber, he was rudely pulled back into conciousness by noises outside his room. He was used to his siblings sneaking around out there to use the bathroom, but this time it was different. The footsteps were quicker, and was accompanied by.. sniffing? Definitely some light growling. Was there some sort of animal in there? With the state of the house, it would make sense for a stray dog to wander in. Regardless, he felt at unease. The sniffing stopped for a moment before sounds of light scratching on his door begun. Devin held his breath, slowly reaching out his arm towards a golden branch he had standing in the corner next to his bed, ready to jump out should whatever was on the other side of the door decide to burst in. The scratching noises stopped, however, and he heard the creature waddle off to god knows where. Devin released a hushed sigh of relief. Needless to say, there were no more sleeping that night.

~~ Next Morning ~~

The next morning, Devin got up late. He could hear the others walk outside of his room, going downstairs one by one. Devin lingered though. While he was normally quite the early bird, clouds of doubt and heavy thoughts kept him from leaving his bed. However, one can't lie in bed forever, and the others would definitely come and check on him if he didn't go down soon. After what seemed like 6 months, he finally got himself out of bed and into the bathroom. A good shower might help fix his mood a bit, or so he hoped.

However, while the shower was just as refreshing as he had hoped it would be, it still didn't really solve any of his issues, if anything it made it worse. Standing in front of the mirror, he took a long look at himself before sighing out loud. "What are you even doing here, Devin. You should leave before you get pulled under with the rest of them". 'the rest of them'. Was that how he felt about his family now? It was easy to see that they were all deeply affected by this whole situation. He was not alone in feeling like actual shit, and he was feeling guilty for being so standoffish about it. They all hated their "parents" for whatever reason, and they all had beef with Lucas in one way or another, he was not special in his pain. He pushed the tempting thoughts of sneaking off and return home with a deep sigh and got dressed. He decided to wear a simple pair of magenta jeans accompanied with a yellow low cut tank top, and as he was about to put his hair up, he stopped for a moment before deciding to leave his medium long hair down.

Getting downstairs to the dining room, he saw that most of his siblings had already helped themselves to some of the amazing-as-always breakfast options prepared by June. Barely having slept that night had a negative effect on Devin's appetite, but the dark rings under his eyes practically pulled his gaze in the direction of the coffee. Pouring himself a large cup, he sat down to gently sip at it while eyeing the vast selection of food before settling on some scrambled eggs and bacon. While he wasn't hungry at all, it wouldn't hurt getting at least some nourishment alongside all that coffee.

"So what did we all hear last night?" Ginny asked, adding to an ongoing conversation taking place before Devins arrival. Devin got a big gulp of coffee in his surprise and started coughing. So the others heard of what happened too? He felt somewhat relieved by that, as he was almost scared he had imagined the entire thing. Alas, any meaningful answer were interrupted by the arrival of yet another member of staff. Devin could hardly recognize Pedro, as he hadn't been working at the institute for long before the siblings scattered. "I swear these things get worse and worse the longer we work here," he said as he was shuffling over to June, completely ignoring the people present. "Nice to see you too, Pedro" Devin said sarcastically, greeting him with a cheers before taking another sip of coffee.

Apparently, he was referring to the Janets. He always did have a hard time getting used to the Janets when he started working there, having believed her to be an actual human being until he had walked in on June talking to three of them. Passed out for a solid 7 hours after that, and Devin was pretty sure waking up to the three Janets smiling in his face didn't help on the trauma either. Poor Pedro though, having had to cope with them for the past 12 years. Devin didn't catch much of that conversation, but chuckled to himself when he saw Pedro angrily gesture towards a Janet whose head was slowly turning 360 degrees repeatedly, all while grinning eerielly.

Luckily, June broke off Pedros ranting. It seemed like he only then realized the siblings were in the room, as he turned to them all with an appologetic nod. He continued talking in a more casual tone than before after that. "The representative from the solicitors is here to discuss the wills.", he said. Oh. Finally some excitement. Oddly enough though, Pedro mentioned wills, instead of the singular term. June picked up on this too and asked him about it. "There are two," Pedro confirmed. "Or at least there were. Your parents had one, and Lucas was writing one of his own after what happened to Priya. I think he wanted to make sure that Yash-".

June was quick to shut him up with one of her charming death stares. Had Pedro misspoken? Devin sighed at the realization that, of course there are more secrets. Nothing can just go easy with this lot, can it.

".. Aaanyways." Devin said after a few seconds of awkward silence. "Theo, you have experience in jurisdiction right? What do you say you and i go have a talk about this.. erhm.. these wills?" Devin was almost excited. Finally, a chance to wrap up all the legal matters, and for the siblings to all go their merry way and leave the institude for good.. Again.


 

Monster Guy

Fairy type Trainer
Cameron Caswell
The Institute
West Wing Dining Room


Jared brought up the fact that there had been a dog last night, and that what was probably making the noise. Cameron’s blue eyes lit up. “Oh my gosh! There was a doggie here? Was it cute? I love doggies! Well, actually I love anything cute. Doggies, kitties, all of em.” Nevermind the fact that he didn’t remember anything about the family owning a dog. The mention of a dog running around the house was exciting.

Morgan came down some time after him. All he had to eat was a cup of coffee, and some toast. Cameron raised an eyebrow. “Morgy, is that all you’re gonna eat? Come on, you can do better than that. There’s plenty of food. Enjoy yourself!”

The main topic of conversation was the mysterious dog. No one knew where it came from. Not even June. Caneron sat there happily eating the food he had piled on. Before the conversation got any further, Pedro another one of the housekeepers from his childhood. Admittedly, Cameron didn’t really know him as well as June. He had only been around for two years before they all left. He came in to announce that the lawyers were here to discuss the matter of the will and their inheritance. Although apparently there were two wills. Lucas also had a will of his own it seemed. Did he leave them stuff too? June cut him off before he could finish his thought. Not that Cameron knew what he was talking about anyway.

“Wait, who’s Priya?” Cameron wondered out loud with a tilt of his head. “And what’s Yash?” Cameron shrugged his shoulders. “Well, you can tell me in a sec. The lawyers are here, and I’m still in my PJs. BRB, gotta go get ready!” He then ran off back to his room to get dressed.
 
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Vern

Why not both?
Evelyn Casswell
Dining Room


“A knife, Lyn? Really?" The apparition inclined his head to one side. "What are you going to do - stab me?

Lyn grimaced at that. Back in the day, she would’ve scolded herself if she’d been sloppy enough to fail at something as simple as concealing a blade. But time has passed — she was now estranged to violence, and that particular brand of deceit. She sighed. “I hope I won’t have to.” And she really did. Now that she’d distanced herself from that past life, she’d come to realise just how much she hated violence.

As it moved around, mocking and taunting her other siblings, Lyn watched, and found herself overcome with a strange sense of disgust. Not disgust towards whatever evil creature had chosen to imitate their brother, transforming that warm smile into whatever the hell that was — but disgust at the fact that she could see a world in which he really did turn out this way, twisted, resentful. A distorted echo of his former self. She hated that such an outcome wouldn’t even have surprised her.

“Who am I?” The figure continued, radiating confidence in the same way that’s she’d learned to when performing in front of others. He was behind her now — how he’d gotten there, she had no idea. “What am I? Those are the million-dollar questions aren't they? I am Lucas. Or at least in a certain way, I am Lucas.”

In a certain way, I am Evelyn. In others, I’m not. Had she not been so lucky to find people who were willing to back that stupid grand plan of hers, she could very well have ended up the same way — a shadow. The thought bothered her more than she cared to admit. When they looked at her after so long, did they feel the same way she did when she looked upon that ‘Lucas’? Who is Evelyn anyway? The Evelyn they remembered wouldn’t think of such things.

“You are not Lucas!” June’s voice snapped her out of her reverie, and Lyn watched numbly as the figure evaporated into thin air. For a while, it was like everyone had stopped moving. Finally, Nathan broke the silence with a sob, and asked June to show them to their rooms.

Lyn suddenly found herself feeling incredibly, intensely tired. Letting out a soft laugh at her own weakness, she allowed the knife to slip out of her hand and fall onto the floor.

***

Ranger Bedrooms

As they returned to that familiar space, Lyn took the first chance she could to excuse herself. She was too tired to think, to deal with whatever emotions the things they’d find would invoke. At least her bedroom was sparse. She'd never owned much, so there was hardly anything to look at -- only the room itself was there to force memories upon her.

She hated her old bedroom, and all the memories it brought. All those nights spent in seemingly unending pain, alone, except occasionally for one person — Marron. Every now and then, she would be there too, using her powers to muffle her moaning and prevent it from disturbing the other siblings as they slept — she’d always sit right there, by the bed, staring down at her with an unreadable expression on her face. Whatever that expression meant, it was not the kind of face a murderer would make.

I’m sorry, she would say to her, when she was able to. You can leave if you want.

She never said anything back.

She never left, either.

Forcing herself to remain upright, she undressed and took a shower, opening up her skin, bit by bit, to the clear water, allowing it to rinse away all the dust that had accumulated on and in her throughout the day. Typically, now would be the time to apply some of her medicine — but she was too tired, and didn’t have it in her to endure the pain. Tomorrow, she told herself.

When she finished, she lay down in bed and closed her eyes. Sleep beckoned, and she didn’t resist. Tonight, the dreams didn’t come.

***

When she woke the next morning, Lyn didn’t feel much better. She was sore all over, and cold too — the blanket had been too rough for her skin, and she’d had to sleep without it. Eventually, she forced herself out of bed, and into the shower. Once again she opened up her skin to the warm water — only this time, she took small spoonfuls of different medicines from the box where she kept them, pouring them onto her palm and forcing them through her body. She prayed that the walls were thick enough that nobody could hear her whimpering — or, at the very least, that the sound of the shower would drown it out.

***

Dining Room

Lyn arrived at the dining room to find that everyone else was already there. She slipped silently through the siblings as they talked, sliding into a seat beside Jared. She sipped slowly at the coffee in front of her, not really feeling any desire to eat — that was the problem with taking her medicine in the morning. It killed her appetite.

“…Lucas was writing one of his own after what happened to Priya. I think he wanted to make sure that Yash-“ Pedro was saying. She’d never particularly cared for Pedro, nor did she have any vivid memories of the man. Under normal circumstances, she would’ve paid little attention to what he was saying. But the names ‘Priya’ and ‘Yash-‘ were unfamiliar, and she couldn’t help but be curious. Given the way he spoke,

Energised slightly by the caffeine and a night of rest, she put on a smile and gave Jared a playful nudge. “You sleep well? Sorry for disappearing like that last night — I was just a little tired from travelling and... well, everything else." and then, lowering her voice into a conspiratorial whisper, in the way children would when eagerly discussing whatever gossip was going around, "What did I miss? Who’s this Priya?”
 

VampirateMace

Internet Overlord
Dr. Morgan Caswell
(Dining Room) The Institute, Cambridgeshire


“This is fine,” Morgan informed Cameron, maybe a little too snappily. He didn't appreciate being called Morgy, but he was pretty sure Cam wasn't actively trying to irritate him, and he didn't feel like fighting at the breakfast table. There was a time he would have. . . but now, just don't freak out, finish the thought, he told himself. And he told Cam, “I just don't really eat that much for breakfast anymore.”

Lilith bounded in, wishing them good morning in a chipper way. Morgan quickly finished chewing and swallowed the little bite of toast he'd taken after talking to Cam. He wasn't a morning person, but again he was obligated to reply, “Good Morning. Kind of tired, apparently there was a dog that got loose last night.”

Meanwhile discussion of the dog continued. Theo was curious about it too, and it was odd that no one had told them anything. Well, apparently no one had told June either, since she denied one would be allowed in the house due to Renata's allergies. Morgan dropped the toast he'd just pick back up, last thing he wanted to hear while eating was that woman's name. Narrowing his eyes, he focused on mentally sorting out the conversation, barely noticing Devin's quiet arrival.

Unfortunately it was interrupted by what's-his-name, who'd come in to complain to June, about the Janets not delivering his message to her. Oh, Pedro, right, he'd been a new hire, back then. . . So, the legal team was here about the wills? Morgan raised an eyebrow at hearing Lucas had a will of his own. Logically, it made sense with him still in hero work, but it also didn't really sound like Lucas. Pedro offered more info at Ginny's request, until June shut him down. Morgan shot her a quick glare, though he knew his power was practically useless here. Pedro's insight had been interesting. Morgan wanted to know; what had happened to Priya? And who or what was 'Yash-'? Cam asked these questions out loud, but then rushed off to get changed.

Morgan took a deep breath and resumed eating. Calmly he pondered everything he'd learned in the silence that followed Cam's departure. Until conversations restarted around him. Lyn was talking to Jared. When had she gotten here? And Devin asked Theo if they could go discuss the wills. Morgan wasn't sure what he was up to. But he was sure he didn't care. If for some reason Devin wanted to contest the wills, it's not like there was anything the three of them had owned that Morgan wanted to lay claim to, so that was fine. All of that was fine. All he wanted was to go home and re-close this chapter of his life. And maybe do a better job keeping in touch with their siblings, at least the ones that wanted to. Yeah that might be nice. He looked across the table at Ginny, suggesting, “Maybe before we leave today, we can all share contact information? I don't ever miss this place, but I do miss you guys sometimes.”
 

Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute


Understandably, Pedro's words had garnered a fair bit of interest from the siblings, who began to question who Priya and "Yash" were. Ginny was interested in knowing more too - even if she did have her suspicions on who the Priya woman was at least. However, any chance at getting their questions soon were interrupted by Cameron leaving the room to get changed, not wanting to be in his pyjamas when they spoke with the lawyer. Speaking of the lawyer, Devin asked Theo whether that could discuss them, seemingly privately. Ginny raised an eyebrow at this but said nothing. If anything she was more curious why Devin would have wanted to ask about it privately between them, she couldn't imagine there was much for him, or any of them for that matter to get out of it. Ginny wouldn't have put it past their parents to have written them out after they had left twelve years ago.

She noticed Morgan looking across the table at her. “Maybe before we leave today, we can all share contact information? I don't ever miss this place, but I do miss you guys sometimes.”

She gave a weak smile in return and nodded her head in agreement. She had pretty much isolated herself from the others after they had left the Institute, but seeing everyone again reminded her that there were some good memories here, and that she did miss her siblings. "That would be nice," She said, glancing around at some of her other siblings. "I'm sure Mira would like to meet her aunts and uncles."

Not long after that Cameron returned from getting changed, and deciding that everyone was ready, Pedro quietly request they follow him. But before any of them could leave, June snapped an arm out in front of Pedro, preventing him from leaving. "Wait," She said, closing her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she looked over each of the children in turn before sighing deeply. "You want to know who Priya was? I'll tell you."

The group lingered quietly, and looked expectantly at the older maid, who took a few more seconds to herself before continuing. "Priya was Lucas's partner," She began, briefly being interrupted by Pedro who add that Priya was more like his wife than just a partner. June gave him a weary look, one that made her look more tired than annoyed as she had before when Pedro had opened his mouth. "As Pedro says, Lucas and Priya were practically a married couple. The only thing that ever stopped them from officially being wed were your parents, they felt marriage ruined the image they had crafted for Lucas over all these years. If they could pretend he was single then they could still keep around those people who wanted to be with him." Ginny cringed a little as June said that, not exactly comfortable with the connotations her words brought with them. Something about Lucas being forced to pretend he was single so that their parents could keep around people who were interested in him pained her in an undescribable way. "Lucas first met Priya not long after he turned twenty-two. She was a new hire that Nathan and I had pressed for to help manage the estate, since we could no longer do as much as we used to and many of the Janets were beginning to fail. Priya came to us with a lot of experience, having previous worked for one of those hotel companies in the city. She was a little younger than all of you, but she and Lucas hit it off immediately. I was never really aware of how close they were until after the Marron and Garret incident. Apparently, she was a big comfort to him during and after the trial. In more than ways it would seem - as around five months after the trial was finished she gave birth to a little girl - Yashvi."

The revelation that Lucas had a child did not surprise Ginny that much, perhaps because she had had her suspicions after reading his letter to 'V'. A mother herself, she knew only a parent could write such a touching letter to their child.

June continued. "After the birth, Priya left us for a while and returned to her mother in York. When she returned, Yashvi stayed with her grandmother. Lucas and Priya decided that was for the best. She was barely a year old at that point, but already your parents were talking of certain experiments to determine whether she inherited powers like Lucas. Lucas refused to let them conduct anything of the sort, and they relented, though Nathan told me they had considered looking into where Priya's mother lived to keep tabs on her, but I don't think they ever did. Or at least I hope they didn't."

"What happened to Priya?" Ginny would ask, realsiing that June had mentioned Priya returning to the Institute, but noting that she had not seen a woman matching her description since they arrived yesterday.

"Unfortunately, her story does not have such a happy ending," June said with a sad smile. "She started becoming very sick out of the blue two years ago. The doctors gave her some medication for whatever it was, and for a while she seemed to be getting better, and then one day she just...dropped. And like that she was gone. Lucas was devastated by the loss. Truly, I don't think he was ever the same afterwards."

After that the room was filled by an uncomfortable silence, the only sound being the faint sniffling from June who dabbed at her eyes with her sleeve. In the end it was Pedro who moved them out of the room, leaving poor June to her thoughts.

**

The Parlour

The group kept a leisurely pace as Pedro led them to their destination. When he stopped in front of the large mahogany doors, Ginny was surprised to see they had stopped in front of the parlour. When the siblings had all lived here, the room had been designated as Matthew's private retreat, a room where he could read and drink in private. Ginny had some vague recollection of playing inside once when she and Garret were children, but remembered little of that time, only that Garret had broken something and Matthew had forbade them from coming inside again.

Pedro pushed the doors open and the group stepped inside. It was one of the smaller rooms of the house, but was still quite spacious. Shelves upon shelves of books lined the walls of the room, broken up only by the odd vase or equally as expensive looking antique, and large drinking cabinet stocked with what Ginny could only assume were the finest beverages from both the UK and abroad. The room had one sole bay window, in front of which sat a large mahogany desk which had long since been cleared of its contents. In the centre of the room sat three large leather sofas, which were placed in front of an open fireplace over which a younger maid named Penny was tending to the flames, trying to avoid the gaze of the other person in the room. A person who Ginny was very surprised to see.

"Gale?" Ginny gasped in shock.

Sat on one of the sofa was none other than the missing member of their family, her feet resting on the coffee table, and currently in the process of taking a gulp from an expensive bottle of alcohol which she had no doubt pilfered from the drinks cabinet.
 
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