10

FAITO
Michael wakes up draped in layers and layers of…sheets…what? Michael doesn't own that many sheets…and that scent…it's clear, defined, and very masculine. Not his at all.
3:29 PM Michael_Lin

3:30 PM FAITO
Eyes slowly open to an open window, the sun pouring in like an invader…and every bit of clothing Michael owns spread out in disarray around him.
3:30 PM Michael_Lin

3:30 PM
He. He most certainly didn't leave that window open.
3:31 PM FAITO
Each of his mirrors are covered in a red, drying glaze.
3:31 PM Michael_Lin

3:32 PM
He's…not touching anything.
3:34 PM FAITO
…there is something poking at him from under his pillow.
3:36 PM Michael_Lin
sits up, edges gingerly back. He doesn't particularly want to know what it is but he's sure to find out.
3:36 PM FAITO
…it feels rectangular and crinkles as he moves. Something in an envelope?
3:38 PM Michael_Lin
grips it with the very edge of his fingertips, pulling it free.
3:39 PM FAITO
Inside is a digital camera. On the envelope itself: "I'm sorry" in magic marker
3:44 PM Michael_Lin
Michael wants to just…not look at whatever is on that camera. Just clean everything up and not think about it, but behind glass (You'll need to know,) that other part of him says.
3:44 PM
He's also going to look at that envelope for anything distinguishing. He doesn't expect there to be.
3:46 PM FAITO
Not a thing. Almost carefully so.
3:47 PM Michael_Lin
It's expected, really. And going to open up the digital camera, looking for a memory card.
3:51 PM FAITO
It's there. One video…and several photos. All password protected. The background has been set: "Your greatest fear"
3:52 PM Michael_Lin
…oh dear.
3:55 PM
He…doesn't really know what to do now.
3:57 PM FAITO
And there's Michael, surrounded by proof that he isn't safe.
3:57 PM Michael_Lin
Other people would probably call the police, but Michael really isn't other people. They don't really have any reason to believe him or bother. He'll try to get a better look at that memory card later (however futile since he doesn't know the password) after he cleans this up.
3:58 PM
…he shouldn't stay here, but he doesn't know where else to go.
4:00 PM
He can figure it out. Clean everything up, put his mother's mirrors back once they're clean, put his clothes away (…assuming they're not shredded or something), it's very mechanical.
4:03 PM FAITO
Most of it is shredded. There's a salvageable school uniform, but that's about it.
4:06 PM Michael_Lin
He should be feeling something, shouldn't he? He's afraid, but that's normal. He's not angry (except behind glass, cold and inevitable like water). Instead, he just quietly disposes of the tattered cloth bits-
4:06 PM FAITO
At the very bottom of the pile of clothing, however, is a mostly-crumpled picture. Of Emily Lin, holding a small child.
4:06 PM
Michael
4:06 PM Michael_Lin
….
4:07 PM FAITO
It's not a picture he had before.
4:07 PM Michael_Lin
He doesn't remember anything like that.
4:08 PM
What would this…he isn't even sure how this adds up or why or how anyone could even have that picture. Someone his mother had known?
4:08 PM
He picks up the picture, puts it in the envelope with the digital camera.
4:11 PM
He's going to have to buy new clothes, new uniforms, and he runs through the calculations in his head. He has the money, if barely, if he buys the absolute minimum (which he would) and skips a few meals this week, and…

4:14 PM FAITO
SOON. flashes across his vision.
Funny. If it weren't written so very large, sudden, and bright…it'd almost be potentially comforting.
4:15 PM Michael_Lin
Michael fights his urge to curl up into a ball, throws his hands in front of his eyes as if he could block the sudden light.
Unfortunately, it is.
Once he's done cleaning everything, he's going to check if anything else in the apartment had been disturbed.
4:20 PM
…particularly in his mother's room.
4:23 PM FAITO
The door IS open, in fact…but one glance inside shows the room to be spot…less. Where are HER clothes?
4:23 PM Michael_Lin
….
4:25 PM
This is quite possibly towards the top of the list of 'unlikely events that he hoped never to explain to his mother'
4:26 PM
(Calm. Breathe.)
4:30 PM Michael_Lin
He's going to have to focus on one thing at a time. First shoes. Where are his shoes? Perhaps still where he had left them?
4:34 PM FAITO
The shoes, oddly, have not been touched
4:34 PM
Not even his mother's shoes.
4:35 PM Michael_Lin
He'd fallen asleep in his clothes, and at least that's…something.
4:36 PM
He finds his schoolbag, puts a couple of books in there, along with his wallet. He doesn't know why he stuffs the envelope in the very bottom of the bag, too, under the books and notebook and glasses case, but he does.
4:37 PM
Back to the door, putting shoes on, before quietly stepping outside.
4:39 PM FAITO
…but where to go?
4:40 PM Michael_Lin
He's going to have to buy new clothes. Cheapest possible for outside school, and obviously his uniforms are going to cost a fair bit more…
4:40 PM
and mentally revising upward how many meals he's going to have to skip.
4:42 PM FAITO
It's then that his COMP buzzes.
4:43 PM Michael_Lin

4:43 PM
For a moment, he considers ignoring it, before looking down at it.
4:43 PM
There's only a very limited pool of possibilities.
4:44 PM FAITO
Cam.
4:45 PM Michael_Lin
…and going to sigh, inaudibly (of course it's the princeling,) as he answers it.
4:47 PM FAITO
"Gooooood morning, beautiful boy. I need your input. I need wardrobe for an occasion. Tough, but dignified. Want to model for me? I need to see it off-body."
4:51 PM Michael_Lin
He doesn't particularly want to (and he's a foot shorter than Cam anyway, so it wouldn't /work/), but. "W-when?"
4:53 PM FAITO
"Now. The mall. I'll buy you lunch. Isn't that nice of me?"
4:55 PM Michael_Lin
"T-thank y-you." and not really going to waste any more time talking. It's a ways to go.
5:12 PM FAITO
The mall is bright, crowded, and busy. Five stories of consumer paradise - also, there's a Frulatti stand.
5:12 PM Michael_Lin
Too crowded, too bright, too busy. He tries to avoid it as much as possible.
5:13 PM FAITO
Cam Bradley apparently like Frulatti. He tucks the straw under his mask, looking only….well, moderately comical.
5:13 PM Michael_Lin
timidly wanders over.
5:16 PM FAITO
He gestures to the seat next to him on the bench. "So…what do you think will look good on me? That's NOT rhetorical. If you don't make your best effort to be warm and sociable, I will embarrass you here."
5:16 PM
All of this is said in the same warm, breathlesss, and friendly tone.
5:21 PM Michael_Lin
sits down on the bench, very reluctantly. Perching on the very edge of it, like he was a bird poised to fly away at any moment. "I-I. H-how l-long w-would I-I h-have t-to think about it?" he'd be better off with Nikaia, who is pretty and fashionable and likes this kind of thing. "I-I d-don't know anything about fashion o-or l-looking good. I-I've never thought about it before."
5:26 PM FAITO
"Then think about it. I prefer for my property to induce a certain amount of envy. Let's try a few places." He stands up, offering his hand as if it were nothing. Maybe to him it is.
5:26 PM Michael_Lin
doesn't take it but stands up on his own, hopping nervously to his feet.
5:31 PM FAITO
Cam parades him through shop after shop. Prep, dress, businesswear, urbanwear, punk…and then he hits a dress shop and pauses. And grins. "You know…no one would know the difference if we get you into a changing room quickly."
5:31 PM Michael_Lin
Michael freezes.
5:33 PM FAITO
"Yes, I think we will." He takes Michael a little firmly by the shoulder. His hand is shaking…and he starts to usher Michael into a room, careful of watchful eyes.
5:33 PM Michael_Lin
The outfit he'd picked for Nikaia when he initially started the game was a dress, but that was in the /game/, where he could wear the things he looked at and it didn't /matter/ and it was safe.
5:35 PM
"W-what-" vaguest little whisper. it's not quite a protest though anyone, anyone else would be.
5:36 PM FAITO
He shuts the door…and a moment later, throws over a lovely gown. It's not like Nikaia, in fact…it looks more like something Michael's mother would wear. Fashionable. Daring.
5:38 PM Michael_Lin
catches it without thinking, not wanting to let something so expensive hit the ground and be ruined, and just stares at it.
5:42 PM FAITO
"You have five minutes."
5:43 PM Michael_Lin
…is Cam just going to keep standing there?
5:46 PM FAITO
(He shut the door from outside, sorry.)
5:48 PM Michael_Lin
And he's going to…very reluctantly change into it. He doesn't want to know what Cam will do if he doesn't, but not going to look at himself in that mirror any more than necessary.
5:49 PM
Things he's pushed away and aside.
5:49 PM FAITO
It's a shame…it's like looking at his mother across the years.
5:49 PM Michael_Lin
That is something he doesn't want to think about.
5:53 PM FAITO
In exactly five minutes, there's a knock. "C'mon."
5:54 PM Michael_Lin
timidly opens the door. He figured out a while ago that Cam didn't exactly mean "model clothes for something he himself would wear".
5:57 PM FAITO
Cam…watches. And sighs. "It isn't right." There is….anger and hurt and a dozen other things in his eyes. "It isn't…." He growls into his mask. "…Keep it. It's trash after it touched you." He turns to walk away…in a chair are bags of clothes.
5:59 PM Michael_Lin

6:00 PM Michael_Lin
is going to close the door and put his /own/ clothes back on. Will hang the dress up very neatly but leave it there.
6:00 PM FAITO
(Empathy?)
6:01 PM Michael_Lin
(0)

6:04 PM FAITO
(And Alertness…)
6:04 PM Michael_Lin
(3)
FAITO
…he hears him humming to himself, outside the door…it's strange, more like a child's song.
6:12 PM Michael_Lin
Is that song at all familiar? And going to step outside. Without the dress.
6:13 PM FAITO
…yes and no. For some reason, it makes Michael's skin crawl.
6:14 PM Michael_Lin
He shivers a bit, hearing it.
6:14 PM
Makes his skin crawl even worse than Cam himself already does…
6:15 PM FAITO
The bag of clothes are still there. Cam nods towards it. "None of it suits me. Take it - that's not a request." He looks out a the open balcony, gazing at all the shops. "…Do you ever just wish that all of this would burn?"
6:16 PM Michael_Lin
isn't going to keep those clothes. There's a charity somewhere that would take them. "N-no."
6:19 PM FAITO
"Liar. You hate it all, don't you? No one cares what happens to you. No one's even looking for you. They're all just following your mother's shadow, that you happen to BE. Her shadow, that is. THat's why you've got no voice."
6:19 PM
"…so why not prove them wrong? Why not leave this place in dust and broken glass? Why not actually be someone?"
6:22 PM Michael_Lin
"…w-why are y-you t-trying t-to c-convince m-me o-of this?" Michael isn't sure what prompts him to /ask/ for once.
6:24 PM FAITO
"Because you belong to me. And as long as you don't fight that, you're worthless. To me, to…" He hesitates. "To anyone. If you can't fight your betters….you're better off just dying. If you don't want to tear this place down, why not just jump the rail?"
6:26 PM Michael_Lin
He's thought of it, before, but that would cause trouble to someone.
6:27 PM
But he doesn't know what he wants, other than nothing, and that's something he's never considered.
6:28 PM FAITO
Cam sighs. "You're a pain in the ass, you know that? If I didn't have a use for you…" He shakes his head. "Well, if I didn't use people, you might be likable. But that's for kids and morons, isn't it? Friends are a fantasy."
6:29 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I k-know."
6:32 PM FAITO
"I'll make you a deal, Michael…I'll lie and say that I'm your friend. Hell, I'll even try to believe it…if. And only IF…you make me a promise. And if you do? No slavery. No pushing. No random cruelty…no…private moments." He chuckles under his mask.
6:32 PM
"Promise me that when everything comes down, that you'll actually FIGHT for once and not close your eyes like a back-alley victim."
6:32 PM
"You promise me that? I'll give YOU everything you want. Fuck it. Why not?"
6:36 PM Michael_Lin
"…I-I d-don't w-want y-you t-to lie."
6:37 PM FAITO
He snorts. "Well, tough shit. I don't ever tell the truth. I just pick the lies I like better. What do /you/ want? Idiot. Child. Trash." He grumbles, looking outside again. "…god, is that what I wanted?"
6:46 PM Michael_Lin
For a moment, Michael feels sorry for him, and just doesn't say anything.
6:48 PM FAITO
"…Give me your answer, and soon. Trust me - you'll know when it's too late." He winks. "Keep the clothes. You look ridiculous most of the time." And he leaves him there.
6:53 PM Michael_Lin
just picks up the bag, even as behind glass there's more promise of thorns, and he's…first going to go find a charity to drop them off at. then somewhere to buy /actual/ clothes far cheaper…