Things are busy outside of the hospital, a crowd milling around. Outside, in fact, Michael catches a sight he thought he never would
6:00 PM
Nurse Tan is sneaking a smoke out of sight of most people within or near the doors.
6:01 PM Michael_Lin
…that's, er, unusual.
is going to try to avoid that crowd the best he can, which probably takes him near the nurse.
6:04 PM Jaito_
6:05 PM Jaito_ is now known as Jaito
6:06 PM Michael_Lin
6:08 PM Jaito
As he gets closer, he sees that her eyes are red and her normally flawless, if minimal makeup is mussed and streaked.
6:15 PM Michael_Lin
pauses for a moment. He shouldn't say anything, he really shouldn't, he doesn't know what to say anyway, but… "N-Nurse T-Tan? I-is s-something w-wrong?" he asks, timidly. …that was a very stupid question, something obviously /is/.
6:21 PM Jaito
She looks up, down at the cigarette, and then back at Michael ."…this is a terrible habit. I mean, it's a hospital for God's sake…but…a friend of mine is…not doing well."
6:23 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I'm s-sorry t-to h-hear t-that, ma'am." very timid, but sincere for all of that.
6:26 PM Jaito
She shakes her head. "Don't be. It's the way of the world: idiots will always make other idiots cry over them." She puts out the cigarette and tucks the spent butt in her purse. She takes out a wipe and her foundation, working to fix the damage. "But you aren't an idiot, are you? You know how to stay out of trouble."
6:27 PM Michael_Lin
nods, timidly. He tries, anyway, though it's not working very well.
6:27 PM Michael_Lin
But he doesn't want anyone to cry for him or because of him, ever, to be certain.
6:30 PM Jaito
"You're a good boy." She smiles, setting her cosmetics aside. Just like that, she' the stern matronly nurse again. "If only Anthony were a good boy. A lot of heartache might be spared. I should get back to work." She walks past, muttering under her breath like some intern had dropped a bedpan. Nothing to cause concern. Nothing for others to worry over.
6:33 PM Michael_Lin
looks after her as she walks away, some part of him filing her words away and taking note of that name.
6:34 PM Michael_Lin
…oh /dear/.
6:35 PM Jaito
In that moment, Michael feels a sudden shiver right now to the root of his spine.
6:35 PM
Someone, he is absolutely certain, wants to kill him.
6:36 PM
SOON, he hears, as his vision snows like a bad display, just for a second. That voice, that powerful voice…warning him?
6:38 PM Michael_Lin
shakes his head to try to clear it, but that other part of him is watchful behind glass, that voiced warning crackling inside his ears. Why would…
6:41 PM Michael_Lin
just keeps walking, after a moment.
6:42 PM Jaito
Michael's new COMP gives the audible ping of an incoming call. That is, if he kept it on him.
6:43 PM Michael_Lin
sighs, inaudibly, and stops somewhere out of the way, digging through his backpack and the neatly-stacked books for it.
6:43 PM Greenling has joined the channel.
6:43 PM Jaito
Across the COMP itself or the glasses, the source is obvious - it's been pre-added to the list of contacts. The Devil Prince.
6:48 PM Michael_Lin
hasn't put on the glasses, and stares at the COMP for a moment, trying not to just close his eyes. It was…going to come, sooner or later. And he silently taps it to answer the call.
6:49 PM Jaito
"Good day to you, beautiful boy….I think I'd like some coffee. Do you think that could be arranged?"
6:53 PM Michael_Lin
forcibly glosses over the first half of the sentence, completely ignores it. "Y-yes."
6:54 PM Jaito
"Excellent. I'm at the park - the one near the hospital. Hey…you wouldn't happen to be NEARBY, would you? I'd hate to put you on the spot…" (Empathy?)
6:58 PM Michael_Lin
6:59 PM Jaito
There's something off in his playfulness, but …this is thoroughly outside of Michael's range of experience to begin with.
7:00 PM Michael_Lin
has utterly no idea how to deal with this or him. "I-I a-am."
7:03 PM Jaito
"Then it shouldn't take you more than a couple of minutes!" There's that sudden surge of retreat instinct again. Michael's vision snows over for just a second. No, not static. Code. Information, flying all around him.
7:04 PM Michael_Lin
Some part of him tries to make /sense/ of that information, that code, to turn it from unreadable to readable.
7:08 PM Jaito
7:08 PM Michael_Lin
7:09 PM Jaito
Light…flame…pain…danger…danger…DANGER…I will rise, I will rise, I will rise…
7:11 PM Michael_Lin
His head suddenly hurts- (a smile behind glass, serene and tidal)- and he nearly or maybe does drop the COMP, danger, danger /again/ and-
7:16 PM Jaito
"Michael. Bring me my coffee now. There's a machine at the park entrance." The tone is sharp, sudden, and demanding.
7:17 PM Michael_Lin
"Y-yes." he murmurs, timidly, picks up the COMP - he knows how to deal with demanding, at least, and going to get that coffee and get this over with.
7:17 PM Jaito
7:18 PM Michael_Lin
7:19 PM Jaito
As he turns, he's nearly bowled over by a woman running away. A second later, a third - much SHARPER - burst of pain and vision swims over his eyes, but passes just as suddenly after bringing him to his knees.
7:19 PM
…he feels a sudden flush. No…part of his skin are SMOKING under his clothes. Like…brands
7:23 PM Michael_Lin
….he bites down any tiny, pained sounds, tries to pick himself up, and part of his mind (not behind glass, but it seems very far away now) is flailing incoherently in complete confusion
7:24 PM Jaito
A hand rests on his shoulder. "Young man, are you okay?" An EMT is looking at him, concerned. "We should get you inside…"
7:27 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I'm o-okay." he really isn't sure that he is but they have better things to be doing. He can keep it together, and he has something he needs to do.
7:28 PM Jaito
"All right…" He doesn't see the smoke, doesn't smell any burned skin…then again, now neither does Michael. Just…his imagination?
7:32 PM Michael_Lin
Yes, he's just hallucinating again. And with that less-than-comforting thought, he's going to pick himself up and keep going.
7:33 PM Jaito
He nearly trips over a black beret.
7:34 PM Michael_Lin
..his aunt's beret? What is it doing here?
7:34 PM Jaito
Quite a few police cars are also pulling into the hospital at about this time.
7:34 PM Michael_Lin
carefully picks it up-oh dear.
7:45 PM Jaito
The park might be a good idea, after all.
7:46 PM Michael_Lin
7:50 PM Jaito
East Coast Park is calm and colorful, despite the increased amount of police tape around the storm-damaged copse of trees nearby. The coffee machine isn't hard to find, thankfully. Neither is Cam. He's sitting, one leg crossed over the knee, right by i.
7:50 PM
7:55 PM Michael_Lin
isn't the type of person to comment on that, though behind glass there's (Princes are all alike.), just going to get that coffee.
7:56 PM Jaito
As he comes closer, he realizes what might've been so odd. Cam isn't wearing the surgical mask. His black coat is even folded beside him. A bruise lines one side of his jaw, but he's still smiling under a pair of "sunglasses" that just scream subtle AR.
8:00 PM Michael_Lin
…oh. That's…unusual.
8:01 PM Jaito
He doesn't so much as move his head…or his arms spanning most of the bench. "Pop a seat, Lin. I'm aching for a sip."
8:05 PM Michael_Lin
perches gingerly on the bench, trying to find the one place Cam isn't taking up.
8:07 PM Jaito
That's currently where his coat is folded, in fact.
8:07 PM
Almost like he planned it.
8:10 PM Michael_Lin
(Of course he did) in glass whispers, and Michael…gingerly perches somewhere else. Not on the coat, though trying to stay as far from Cam as he can.
8:13 PM Jaito
Cam's grin grows a little wider. "Nervous? Relax. You're beautiful, but honestly? I don't go for beautiful, at least not your kind…then again, I could be lying!" He chuckles under his breath and then holds out his hand.
8:14 PM Michael_Lin
hands him the cup. Hand trying not to shake.
8:15 PM Greenling is now known as Shousei_Yamazaki
8:18 PM Jaito
He lingers for a moment just out of reach, then takes it. "You never cease to surprise me. What would you have done if I'd told you to bring it to my lips?"
8:22 PM Michael_Lin
is silent, but he knows what he would have done - done it, even if only to get this over with.
8:24 PM Jaito
"Hmm. I should be more selfish, then. I do love being pampered, especially…" He finally turns to glance Michael's way. "Oh, forget it." He sips his drink. "Have you been playing?"
8:29 PM Michael_Lin
shakes his head.
8:32 PM Jaito
He shrugs, resting one arm over Michael's shoulder while drinking with the other. "Don't rush yourself. You belong to me now, so I don't want you burning out. I want you to impress, astound, and amaze my enemies. You represent me, after all."
8:36 PM Michael_Lin
resists the urge to shrink away completely, though he's definitely trying. And 'impress, astround, and amaze' his enemies? Cam clearly has the wrong person in mind here.
8:37 PM Jaito
Cam leans in, lips to ear, with little room for Michael to escape. "I'm serious. You've got…something indescribable, kid. You and Murakami both. Oooh, if I could get that boy on a collar. The THINGS we could do together…" He laughs, little tickles on the skin, then stands up, leaving Michael room to breathe.
8:38 PM
"I've got the eye for potential, you know. Friends, enemies, pawns - it's all numbers, variables, and growth. And I…being a natural investor? Know a good deal when I see it."
8:39 PM Will has joined the channel.
8:43 PM Michael_Lin
somehow manages not to bolt. Somehow. It's a very close thing, probably so terrified he can't move, but is…relieved when Cam stands up.
8:44 PM Michael_Lin
…There's nothing in there. Nothing. He doesn't know what he sees - (water hides everything).

8:44 PM Jaito
"I can smell him, you know. Nikaia. I can smell your loathing. And you know what? I think I like it. If I could really have my own pretty doll that hated and hated and HATED like you do? Well…I'd never lack for fun."
8:44 PM
He turns back. "Tell me honestly…do you like me, Michael? I need to know. It changes everything."
8:48 PM Michael_Lin
Michael doesn't respond for that first part. That part of him isn't /there/, and maybe never will be again. (pretty puppets dancing on pretty strings: I will /snap/ those strings and tangle you in them) is a sweet-edged promise from behind glass, but Michael is honestly confused by the question.
8:48 PM
But he doesn't like Cam: he's terrified of him, but he doesn't like him.
8:51 PM Michael_Lin
finally shakes his head, almost imperceptibly. It's very ungrateful of him (and why should you be grateful to the little princeling?) but he did want him to be honest.
Cam's boot slams into the bench right beside Michael's knee. "Good! I'm not altogether likable! But you know what?" He curls a finger under Michael's chin. "That doesn't have to matter. Because I know what I WANT. And I'll kill to get it. And one day? So will you. That's what it means to serve the Brigade. To serve yourself. Nod if you understand."
8:55 PM Michael_Lin
Does he truly understand? How can you understand if you've never thought about what you want, actively /avoid/ it and don't think you deserve a place in this world?
8:55 PM
…no, he doesn't truly understand.
8:56 PM
He can intellectually understand the words all he wants.
8:58 PM Jaito
Cam tilts his head, like he were considering closing for a kiss. "Honesty…it's why I like Yamazaki. Have you ever seen anyone more capable of honest disgust? Think of how he must see himself? You might be downright generous." He pulls away again.
8:58 PM
"Because THAT is how people work. THey project their own little problems onto everyone else, until their problem's big enoguh to pretend they can't fight it."
8:58 PM
"Ohhhh, I'm not fat. Everyone just feeds and feeds me and they hate me, so why bother?"
8:59 PM
"I'm just…dumb. The tests don't care, no one thinks I can learn a damn thing. I might as well just be a punk."
8:59 PM
He snorts. "No one will ever love me, so I better make them love me first."
8:59 PM
"People…are trash. Nod if you agree." He turns to watch, his eyes angry and demanding.
9:00 PM Michael_Lin
has never considered the question. Hasn't thought about people,much, but he knows history: knows the lows of horror and the heights of beauty of it.
9:00 PM Michael_Lin
doesn't nod.
9:01 PM Michael_Lin
doesn't /know/.
9:03 PM Jaito
"…damn it, don't you care about anything?" He tosses the half-drank coffee into a nearby bin. "Maybe that just makes you lucky. You don't have to impress anyone. Because you've already given up. Little problem, big enough to kill you."
9:07 PM Michael_Lin
He has things he cares about, but not enough: he doesn't know what he'll do after his mother dies. Just waiting. Waiting to fall,really."I-It h-hasn't y-yet."
9:09 PM Shousei_Yamazaki is now known as Greenling
9:09 PM Jaito
"Has it? Can you call what you are /alive/?" He stretches, as if the question didn't mean a thing at all. "I'd like to think that I'd beat the blood out of the body of whoever did this to you. It comforts me."
9:10 PM Plushiemancer
Why would such a thing comfort him? Michael stares at him, blankly.
9:12 PM Jaito
"…that face makes me want to hurt you."
9:14 PM Plushiemancer
"I-I'm s-sorry." Michael murmurs, lowering his eyes, but it he really wants to…then what does it matter?
9:17 PM Jaito
"Uuughh, that pisses me off even more." He marches over and tilts Michael's face back to look at him. Not roughly, but forcefully. "Are you actually sorry?"
9:19 PM Plushiemancer
He's sorry for making him angry, at least?
9:24 PM
But he isn't sure that's what Cam is looking for, and it's hard for him to look at him, especially with their height difference.
9:25 PM Jaito
He sighs, looking left and right. He lets Michael go. "I want to meet the man that tried to kill his brother. I need to talk to him…I need him. I want him. You? I just want." He slumps back down in the seat, looking tired. "Then again, I think I want everything."
9:27 PM
9:28 PM Plushiemancer
9:29 PM Jaito
…he's scared of something.
9:34 PM Plushiemancer
Everyone's scared of something: Michael knows this, and it's strange seeing the Devil Prince so…tired. defeated. And his eyes lower. "I-if t-that's w-what y-you w-want…"
9:35 PM Plushiemancer
digs the glasses case out of his bag, hands shaking.
9:35 PM Jaito
He looks up. "…you've been able to wake up all this time? God in heaven, why would you WANT to be you, then? You certainly don't seem happy."
9:43 PM Plushiemancer
That way had been broken: he'd tried to. And he doesn't answer the question (you deserve /your/ place in the world) as he closes his eyes, putting the glasses on.
9:46 PM
It's almost like glass breaking, when he opens his eyes, and Misha delicately sits on the bench, on Cam's coat, hands folded in his lap: still demure, with a lot of the same body language but with a different, more serene cast, devoid of nervous gestures.
9:47 PM Jaito
"…get off of my coat, at least, will ya? I just had it dry cleaned."
9:50 PM Plushiemancer
"If you keep your hands to yourself."
9:50 PM
9:51 PM Jaito
"…This, I like." He grins. "Welcome to the Black Brigade, Misha Nikaia. The weak serve the strong. The weak must become strong. Strength is proof that you're alive."
9:55 PM Plushiemancer
Nikaia stands up, moves just enough to get off of Cam's coat, before sitting down again. "And you wished to speak with me?"
9:56 PM Jaito
"Not really. I prefer talking to Michael, honestly. He's the perfect audience." He plants one foot on the bench again, boxing Nikaia in. "Just what exactly are you planning to do, when you can't run away anymore?"
9:58 PM Plushiemancer
"Do you really wish to find out?"
10:01 PM Jaito
"How much do you understand? Are you just some brute ogre of instinct….or has she told you more?"
10:04 PM Plushiemancer
Violet eyes narrow behind the glasses. "Enough to put myself on a trail."
10:07 PM Jaito
"That's hardly anything at ALL." He laughs. "I get it, though. No one trusts you yet. Which is WHY I want you so bad…I want you on my side, by my side, WITH my side when it all goes down…so…what will it cost?"
10:08 PM Plushiemancer
"More than you can ever pay, princeling."
10:09 PM Jaito
He clenches some of Misha's shirt in his fist. "Don't….underestimate what I'll do. Not when the stakes get real, you hear me?"
10:10 PM Plushiemancer
"I hear you." and going to try to push him off.
10:12 PM Jaito
He lets go, seemingly satisfied. "Then…know this. I invited you because we're the only people who will EVER care who you are, instead of what. Remember that when you go back to sleep, little demon." He grins…and there are too many teeth and too sharp. Then it's normal again. "Now put Michael on the phone."
10:15 PM Plushiemancer
"I will remember." Nikaia says, with that same serene smile - he promised you thorns, prince, and you will drown in your own blood, but not /yet/- and removes the glasses, and Michael lets that half of him go, all nervous fluttery gestures, as the glasses go back into the case.
10:16 PM Jaito
"…does it leave your skin hot when you do that? I know I'm a little flushed." He grins wide, completely normal teeth.
10:17 PM Plushiemancer
shakes his head, eyes lowered.
10:18 PM Plushiemancer
Is this all, he wonders?

10:19 PM Jaito
"Ugh…get out of here. And get some rest. You're starting to lose the edges off of your beauty. You should treat your gifts better."
10:19 PM Plushiemancer
just doesn't say anything and goes, quickly.