April and Jandra's Apartment
The apartments at The Basement tend around 1,000 square feet, generally between one large studio-style room with a small bathroom and kitchenette, or a wide living room with a bedroom and kitchen/dining room in back, or four rooms 12' square each.
The trend of hardwood floors continue into the apartments, often with rugs instead of wall to wall carpeting, the wall-paint tends towards pine green or eggshell white, and the heating by means of hot-water accordion-style radiators (although it is not unheard of for folks to divert the gas-line to the kitchen and set up gas fireplaces)
The westerly wind outside makes today a perfect day to be inside, and Jandra is inside, packing for a trip home. The door is on the catch as ever, open to friends to walk right in, and the normally tidy livingroom is strewn about with clothing and books, and other personal items. Unusually, there is no music on, and she is dressed casually, in jeans and a shirt with a vest top. Her normally friendly, relaxed face is worried today, but her tension level is not as high as it had been in the other apartment.
Jeremy comes wandering in. It seems like the only refuge he's found from all the stuff going on. He looks like he's not slept and is rather twitchy. Much like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He swallows before calling out, "Jan…may I come visit?"
Jandra turns towards him, her hands full of clothes, her face relaxing into a smile. "Of course." She drops the clothes into the case, taking the steps forward to him, to offer both her cheek and a hug. "Things a little too much for you down there?" The question is soft, gentle.
Jeremy nods and goes to Jandra. "I can't handle it. I can feel all the emotions and it hurts…" He shakes his head. "They keep wanting me to stay in the pile. But I feel like its all my fault." He sighs, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be botherin you with this."
Jeremy does accept the hug, practically melting into the touch he's been avoiding with the rest.
"It isn't a bother, Jeremy. I didn't feel comfortable in the pile too, there is too much…" She shakes her head, avoiding picking a word, as she hugs him tightly for a long time. Her own emotions are not so unstable but worry shows, and a touch of fear. "How is it your fault? It sounds unlikely." Her touch is gentle as she pulls away, reaching a hand to press against his cheek as she looks at him.
Jeremy is trembling and watches Jandra pull away. "I infected Matt….so anything that he does wrong…its my fault. Matt was such a nice guy before. I wish I knew why all this went wrong."
"Has anyone asked Matt for his version of events?" The question is softly spoken, reasonable as she shakes her head at Jeremy. "No, Jeremy, it is entirely the responsibility of whoever it is who did the act, but Matt always has taken no for an answer from me." She shakes her head quickly, turning to continue packing as she speaks.
Jeremy looks at Jandra, "I don't know. I'm sure Forest will talk before he does anything stupid. Matt eodsn't like dealin with me. SO its hard ta find out everything. I'm thinking of goin ta the crocs."
Jandra turns, tilting her head slightly, a question on her face. "I'll ask Matt and speak with Forest." Her tone is decisive and, decision made, she moves on, "What have the crocs to do with this? I don't understand, Jer." She shuts the lid on the case and moves across to the cushion pile, offering an inviting hand to Jeremy.
Jeremy says, "I'm a member of the bask. And they don't overreact with emotions. They're composure is colder in ways and soothin ta me."
Jeremy follows Jandra and leans if she lets him.
"How can you be a member of their bask? Jer, am I over reacting with emotions?" She curls onto the cushion pile, wrapping her arms around the boy. "People will just have to learn to keep themselves calm." Her voice is calm and, despite deeper emotions of worry, she leans in to rub her cheek lightly against his.
Jeremy says, "I have a special place in their Bask. It means alot ta me. Overreactin? I don't know. I can't handle things. Can't blame anyone else who can't either."
"I can. Matt did a lot for me when I first came here, to help me feel more comfortable about things. I don't believe he forced someone to sleep with him, not when he has April." Jan is stoic in her belief in her friends, and she shakes her head slowly, petting him lightly.
Jeremy says, "I saw what he did ta two of the weaker members of the pard. It wasn't pretty. It could be you were strong enough that he didn't feel tempted by you. Or that he only does that sort of stuff to guys. Cause yer the second female ta not have a prob."
"I'm not that strong, Jer." Jandra shakes her head, hugging him gently, resting her cheek against him lightly. "Either way, he should be able to give his side of things before Forest makes a decision. A stranger's word shouldn't condemn anyone to death."
Jeremy says, "I don't want him ta die. Cause then I aughta be put down too. But he needs ta be spoken to and all. Either way, I want ta be safe with the bask when things get bad."
Jandra speaks softly, soothingly, "You can hide out here if you want, but if he deserves to die, then Cale should have too, and you, and no doubt others in the pard. I don't believe it was a forced thing." She is petting him lightly, calming him as best she can.
Jeremy closes his eyes and sighs. "Thank you….At least if we arne't agreeing yer still feeling saner than some." He frowns. "They dont' realize how much it hurt."
"You can disagree without it being an argument or a fight. People get too uptight." The difference is, perhaps, that Jan isn't emotionally involved, but there is a flicker of pain when she glances towards the suitcase. "I'm sure April won't mind if you crash in my room when I'm away…"
Jeremy shakes his head. "They'll find me…." He sighs. "I wish you wouldn't leave. But I understand why."
Jandra's stroking carries on, calm and soothing. "I won't be long." She hesitates, her lips tightening, "I don't think it will take long." Sadness in her voice, she tightens her arms around Jeremy, "So go to the cabin for a bit. Or I could tell Forest to fix this."
Jeremy sighs. "Dyson will take care of me. He gets mad when I don't go ta him enough." He gives a slight smile. "I'll be safe there.
"Dyson? I don't know him." She is petting him lightly, watching his face thoughtfully, the feelings under control enough. "Are you sure you will be safe enough?" She hesitates before adding softly. "I could take you with me but my parents don't know…"
Matt knocks and steps on in, looking about and giving a simple wave. "Hey Jandra."
Jandra looks up, giving Matt a smile that holds pure relief in it. She drops a kiss on Jeremy's head before she disengages herself, rising to her feet to move, offering her cheek to Matt. "I'm glad you are here. Do you know a person called Elizza?"
Matt gives a nod, "Yeah? My boyfriend who is in the hospital…" he presses his lips tight together.
"He isn't in the hospital. He is at Forest's, last I saw him." Jan's expression is questioning, worried, and she reaches out to touch Matt's arm. "He is claiming rape and that you infected him."
Matt looks over at Jan's face and gives a low growl and a sigh. "Well, fuck me silly. He sleeps in my bed, trying to live by the touch and snuggle and grope, and /now/ he calls it rape."
The relief that flows from Jan is almost tangible, and she smiles, stepping forward to hug Matt, if he allows it. "I knew you didn't do that. You took no for an answer often enough from me." She accepts his answer absolutely.
Matt looks to Jan. "Pretty much, he didn't say no until the middile of sex, and I lost control. Something I warned him about, but he wanted to be like us."
In the corner, in the cushion pile, Jeremy is curled up. Jandra and Matt are stood in the middle of the living room, her arms around him, hugging him. The relief on her face is obvious, as is the concern. "So he got buyer's regret?" There is a touch of her temper in her voice, her lips tightening.
April had gone down to get some sandwiches for them and when she walks into the room and sees Matt there, the bag is dropped as she runs the few feet to him and adds her hugs to him. "oh crap, I'm so glad to see you, Matt."
Matt looks over to Jandra, "At the very least. He kept coming over. I didn't stalk him, I didn't force him to visit, and he knew of my apartment's clothing optional rules, and slept in my bed. What was he expecting? And, I healed him, I used my healing stuff, and healed him, time and time again, I have no idea why he wouldn't heal, or why the hell he was in the hospital."
Jan takes a step back, rescuing the sandwiches as April greets Matt. "Then you need to speak to Forest, Matt. The pard believe him and he was…" She pauses, selecting her words cautiously, "Very emotional and appealing to some of the pard." The words are spoken as if each is picked precisely.
April tilts her head back to kiss Matt. "I've been so damned worried." she readjusts her hug on him and nuzzles his shoulder.
Matt hugs April back, and gives a nod. "Of all the stupid shit." Matt says, "Even put me through a fucking emotional rollercoaster. I've never lost control like that, and wanted to die. And for awhile, I thought it was going to be okay. But, nope."
"Well, his story to the pard is that you wouldn't take no, and he claims you tore him up." Jan's words are blunter now, and she moves towards the kitchen, unpacking the bag. "It all comes at once. I have to go out of town." She stands in the doorway, leaning against the frame, watching the pair. "You need to tell Forest your side. He is set to kick you out of the pard, at best."
April suddenly notices that it's her turn to speak and sighs as she looks from Jandra to Matt. "there's more." she hugs Matt harder. "What about the guy that interviewed him at the Hostpital Matt, I heard some guy was there, a PI."
Matt gives a nod, "Elizza didn't say much at the time, but, I had this feeling that things weren't right with him then." he sighs, "Tore him up? It was simple puncture wounds on the sides, under the ribs. No claw slashing, no ripping, no shreading."
April mutters something softly, "it's said he's damaged inside too." she sighs again. "Rumors are running rampant." and she starts crying, something she had been doing on and off since she had heard the story from Forest.
"Well he had plenty to say at Forest's apartment, in bed with Talen and Keith." Jan's face is tight, "He was hysterical, as was Talen. There was a good deal of …" She closes her mouth against the word she intended to use, her face tightening.
Matt presses his lips together, Keith did this then? Keith was there and didn't say a thing?" he asks.
April holds Matt as tight as she can. "He's believeing Elizza, Matt, he's treating Elizza as if he were his mate. Holding and fondling him."
"That is true. He is." Jan's confirmation from the kitchen doorway is softer than the angry words before, but she still stands there, her arms crossed over her chest. "Elizza is very convincing. The level of hysteria was impressive."
Matt gives a slow sigh, and shrugs. "Well, I expected better of Keith I suppose. Or at least for love to guide him." he pauses for a few moments, "So, why shouldn't I just leave the pard again, and back to being feral? I mean, everyone seems to love Elizza now, and sucking on his pity party."
April nods at Jandra. "Hysteria added to by Talen. No one is giving any thought to Zack,, who is also suspect of being infected." then she rehugs Matt and shakes her head at him. "At least go back to Charley, Matt. Don't go rogue, don't go feral." and her tears beging to flow harder.
Jan hesitates and then shakes her head slowly. "If you both have left the pard, Cale and I may consider moving on." She is standing in the kitchen doorway, with April and Matt embracing, and Jeremy curled on the cushions in the corner, silent (and afk). "I am not close to the others, present company excepted, and Forest." She hesitates, "Who is Zack?"
Matt looks to April. "Yup, he's infected. Zack got it from touching open wounds with Talen or something like that." he pulls April in to hug her. "I mean, why would I want to stay with this pard? They've shown very little loyalty. Just open ears and closed minds to whoever can talk with the most tears in the eyes."
The door opens as Cale nudges his way in. He doesn't seem surprised to find others in the room, ears and all. He's got a plastic shopping bag in hand and lets his eyes scan a few moments before he steps in and closes the door behind him. He lifts the bag and notes to Jandra, "I got the stuff for you." Though after that he doesn't yet say very much, taking the bag to her.
Jan straightens and steps towards Cale, lacking a smile but her face softens. "Matt didn't mean to do it. Elizza agreed to have sex and then had buyer's remorse." Jan believes Matt, and it shows in her face as she offers her cheek to Cale to greet, her hands reaching for the bag. "Thank you." Belatedly.
April tries to stop crying but in no way is she letting go of her grip on Matt for fear he will just leave. "I'm sorry Matt, but with Talen fanning the flames, it's better if you come with me and hid out at Charley's, I'm sure he won't mind."
Matt gives a nod and holds April close, a warm snug. "Well, I just thought, people were better then that. I should have expected it though." he looks to the door, as if pondering. "Suppose I could talk to Charley."
Cale's lips form a straight line as Jan informs him, but he still smiles at the peck and thanks. Fleeting, his smile. "I'm not really interested in arguments and excuses. What happened, happened. How it happened doesn't matter. I know that from experience. It needs to be handled responsibly because someone's life has been changed and there is no going back. That's all I have to say about this." He doesn't say it to anyone in particular, he just says it and settles his arm about Jan's waist loosely.
"I think that is wise, April. I have to leave soon but I'll try and talk to Forest before I go, see if Cale and I can't talk sense into him, to at least hear your side of things." Jan gives Cale a questioning look, "If people responded with knee jerk reactions when Cale infected me, he would be dead." She leans into him, her embrace tightening around his waist, her face tight with worry.
April looks around at Jan and Cale and smiles as her tears are forgotten. "And I see you understand now, how much he loves you."
Matt gives a simple nod. He leans against April for a moment, "I came back to the pard just for Keith, to make him happy. Ain't a single tie in the world holding me down anymore."
Cale glances towards Matt and seems like he might have something on his mind, yet he doesn't. He nods to Jandra and offers, "We can talk to him, but I don't feel I have any place to do so. I don't know Matt well, I don't know who these people are he was with and I've not been here very long. So there isn't much for me to say. There is much I could say, but it probably won't help very much."
"Uh, I should know this." Jan's voice is soft, apologetic as she leans back to look up at Cale. "Do pards split? Can you have two pards in one city?" The question is to Cale mostly, her arms around him, the shopping forgotten by her feet.
April knows the answer to that and is shakingher head at Jan. "no, it would end up with a war, Jandra." and she looks from one man to the other to agree wth her.
Matt gives a bit of a nod to April. "Yeah, you'd have all the emo ones on one side. The others would kill them out of pity." a bit more of a hug with April as he says "It's time to step out and leave for the moment."
"I'm not interested in forming a Pard. I just want to live as normal a life as I can, given the circumstances," Cale says, his eyes moving between April and Jan. He glances towards Matt and says, "I think less conclusions would be leapt to if you didn't try so hard to be on the outside. Perhaps it doesn't make it alright, but its not hard to understand why some might not believe what you have to say in your own defense."
Jan sighs, her concern showing on her face. "This is not going to end well, or quietly, and that boy is not rational or likely to be calm…There was mass hysteria up there. April, will you go with him?"
April gives Matt another quick kiss and finally lets go of him to hold his hand and nods at Jan "I'll see you there to Charliys and I'll be there tonight, I do't want to stay here in the apartment alone after Jan leaves."
Matt gives a nod to April before looking to Cale. He gives a bit of a shrug before making off down the hallway, needing to go get things done.
Cale shakes his head slightly and looks to Jandra. "So tell me more about this. If I'm going to say something to FOrest, I'm going to want to have something to back it up. Like what is this 'buyers remorse' that changes things."
Jandra hugs Cale briefly before bending to pick up the bag he bought with him, her face troubled. "Elizza agreed to have sex, even pushed for it, and then changed his mind in the middle. And now he is crying rape." Her voice is even, steady, the explanation provided as she packs the items he picked up for her.
April leaves with Matt, still holding his hand as she chats about the beer keg she got for Charley for christmas.
Cale frowns faintly and shakes his head. "This is why I was careful with you, Jan," he says. "This sort of mistake is what you don't fool with. I suppose there is blame for this other person as well, but if he's not going to own up to his own part in this.." He shakes his head. "I'm not going to lean on him too harshly, but I can't feel great empathy for him. As I said, he tries hard to be the bad boy. Then wonders why people think he is that."
Jan packs slowly, her face troubled, divided between the two places. "Perhaps, but he was kind to me, and helped me accept this. He always took no for an answer, and I felt safe enough being naked around him." She closes her case, glancing around, checking she has not forgotten anything. "He does pretend to be the bad boy hard but…"
"I'll grant you how he's treated you. And I am thankful for that," Cale replies. "But it's obvious he doesn't want to be with the Pard. For whatever reason. Better he be where he wants to. And maybe this will teach him to be a little more careful who he plays around with. Took getting changed for me to learn that." He lingers near, watching her pack for now.
She turns, leaning against her suitcase, tilting her head to look up at him. Her face softens, and she offers a hand to him, Jan's eyes warming. "I know. I appreciate how careful you were with me, Cale. I do." She shakes her head slowly, the concern bleeding back into her eyes. "I just think this pard is splitting down the middle, and if we get one more over dramatic person, it will explode."
Cale reaches out to take that hand and nods. "Then I think we should make our own way.. or something like that." He lifts her hand, lightly pressing his lips against the back. Not a kiss, but a soft rub. "I want you to have a peaceful life, after all that's happened. This all just reminds me how much things have changed for you. And how I don't really want more strife to take away your smile."
"Separate from the pard?" She steps up to him, a slither of space between them as Jan lifts her gaze to his face, her forehead wrinkling. "Will that not make us rogue?" Her voice drops, to avoid disturbing the resting Jeremy, "I don't want more fighting, more drama in my life, Cale. I want to go to work, hang out with you…Have friends who aren't hurting each other."
Cale shakes his head slightly and says, "I'm not sure just what is right. Maybe just.. taking a step back. Not really leaving, but distancing?" He shakes his head slightly. "I'm just not real happy with a reminder of my own mistakes rising up like this."
Jan closes that space and hugs him, if he allows it, with a firm shake of her head. "This is not comparable to us, Cale." Her words are firm, if softly spoken. "You deliberately didn't do that to me, however much we wanted to, and you accidentally infected me, protecting me from harm. It isn't the same." She hesitates and adds, softly, "And I didn't run screaming to your pard."
Cale shakes his head and wraps his arms about her waist, warm and welcoming. "Like I said, excuses don't matter. What happened, happened. Someone's life has changed and there is no going back. And I have a responsibility to you. That I love you is only part of that." He smiles just a little. "Come on, I'll help you finish packing."