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Generation 2

Chapter Thirteen: We Are Not The World

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(Pull out the pin)
I’m falling on the grenade now
(Don’t shoot, don’t shoot)
I’m just a kid like you

The voice carried by the microphone sounded foreign and desperate to my own ears. It took me a second to recognize that the sound had erupted from my own throat. My hands raced to cover my lips as the weight of my actions tumbled onto my shoulders. The surprise written on my face was reflected back to me in the eyes of the crowd – officers and protesters alike. I could only watch as the uniformed officials’ recovered first, eyes hardening as a loud explosion ripped through the air. I flinched instinctively, hands moving to protect my ears as two more detonations broadcasted the arrival of reinforcements. The protesters began to scatter as canisters clanked loudly onto the pavement, a thick fog of chemicals coating their ankles. The officers already on the front line accosted the nearest individuals without discrimination, slamming their frantic bodies into the ground face first. Absconding protesters erupted into coughing fits as the mist began to rise, faces red as the panic settled in. Shouts mingled with the cracks of gunshots and I caught a glimpse of purple through the mist. Noir’s hair was wild without the bandana – which was now tied securely over his nose and mouth. I saw him throw a punch before he disappeared into the smog.

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I collapsed as the mist snaked towards me, fear tightening my muscles into submission. The chemicals blurred my vision as the vapor surrounded me. In a moment of clarity I copied Noir’s example, using the bottom of my blouse to protect my orifices. While I did not erupt into a fit of coughs, my breathing began to accelerate into wheezes and I was sure my chest was going to capsize. Black dots ate into my vision, blurring out the rest of the chaotic scene as my ears filled with buzzing. I could make out yellow through the black as I began to shake violently.

“Estellise. Estellise, is that you?”

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The voice cut through the buzzing, feminine and worried. Disorientation swelled in my brain until laughter bubbled out and the woman sighed, taking my free hand and tugging me to my feet. I was practically dead weigh as she sluggishly dragged me towards a row of bushes that lined the sidewalk.

“Crawl.” She ordered, no longer supporting me. I buckled under my own weight, hands flailing out to protect me from the fall. Branches dug painfully into the skin of my palms but I didn’t scream. Instead I laughed again, eyes burning as my shirt fell away from my face, “Straight.” She called, nudging me forward.

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I crawled forward about two inches before a branch scrapped painfully into my arm. I hesitated but another prodding from the lady behind me caused my legs and arms to keep mowing forward. It was a slow process – the leafs and branches ripped at my hair and slashed up every inch of my exposed flesh – but after what felt like miles the green gave away to steel and glass. The commotion echoed behind us. I gazed through my spotted vision at raw palms and knees as the background began to spin.

“Hurry we have to get to –“

*

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We fight for billionaires who bomb our city streets
(Armed to the teeth)
Divide the youth for corporate greed

I wake up warm. Uncomfortably warm. I struggled against the restraints that held my arms against my body, mouth opening and closing soundlessly. Every gasp of breath that filled my lungs felt like knives and my heart dropped when I was unable to open my eyes.

“You need to rest,” my head snapped towards the voice, my wrestle intensifying when I couldn’t place it with a name, “please, stop struggling.”

I thrashed my head back and forth, ignoring the pressure that started pounding at my temple, “Estellise, please, I need to clean your face.” The faceless voice sounds exasperated, tired.

“Why am I restrained? Who are you?” I croak despite the liquid fire that spread in my chest at the effort.

“Restrained?” The voice seemed confused for a moment, “Oh, Estellise, dear. I just tucked you into bed. You need water. You breathed in a lot of tear gas.”

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I could feel the presence in the room shift around before settling back down next to the bed. Relief from the warmth washed over me as a cool object was placed on my forehead. Something hard prodded my chapped lips but I clenched them tighter at the contact, moving my head to the side. The voice was insistent, following my mouth around until finally a few drops of liquid seeped past my guard. I ached for more of the precious fluid, my body naturally craving the soothing respite it gave my throat, but I continued to fight against it. I couldn’t take the risk of being drugged – especially since the voice hadn’t answered my second question.

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After a minute or two of playing chase the voice gave in, sighing and removing the cup, “You are not going to recover from your fever and injuries at this rate, Estellise.”

“Where’s Noir?”

“Who?”

“Noir.” I repeated, swallowing the salvia that had built up in an attempt to coat my raw vocal cords.

“I don’t know who that is,” It answered, “If they were at the riot with you they are most likely being processed in a jail cell right now.”

There was a moment of silence as the voice dropped something warm and wet over my eye lids, “That should help with the swelling. The side effects of the gas should be gone in a few more hours. Please, try to rest. We’ll talk more in the morning.”

I didn’t have much choice as the presence disappeared behind the soft click of a door and I was left alone in the darkness.

*

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Here’s to the propaganda
And now they take your life away

I woke up to a cheery, “Much better!” as the rags that had been resting over my face were removed. I groaned, eyes blinking open slowly as they adjusted to the harsh light flowing in from a nearby window. The face that greeted me was completely yellow, her shoulder length hair curly around her delicate features. She wore a kind expression that was muddled with worry but the fear coursing through my veins did not cease.

“Who are you?” My voice was still broken, sore from the abuse it had endured.

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She handed me a glass of water as I sat up in the small, dirty twin bed, “I’m am a friend of your father’s, and knew you when you were just a baby.” She answered, sitting on the side of the small bed with me, “My name is Cephei.”

The name rang a bell. I just wasn’t sure when and if the context was positive or not. Frowning, I lowered my gaze to the glass, looking at the fluid inside rather suspiciously. Eventually the thirst won over my precaution and I took a huge gulp, relishing in the feeling, “I don’t remember you.”

“You were six or so the last time I saw you,” Her voice almost sounded sad, “What were you thinking run up there like that? You could have gotten yourself arrested and then Berry only knows what they would have done with you. A mixed berry – they’d probably execute you.”

My eyes were still puffy but I felt tears burn at the inflammation as the sole image of Noir fighting in the mist flashed before my eyes. I bit my bottom lip, nibbling off a piece of dead skin in the process, “I need to find Noir. Can we go to the station?” I asked, needing to know what had happened to him, “Eden, too. We have to see if they are okay, if they are there.”

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Cephei shook her head, looking quite solemn as she did so, “No. You are in no condition to go anywhere,” I wasn’t convinced, “they are looking for you, Estellise. The Resistance has declared war on the Uprising and no one in the whole nation of Berry has tried to stop it. Members saw you last night and they want you.” She emphasized want and I realized that they didn’t really want me. They wanted to get rid of me – of any evidence that the government had lied.

And now that war has been declared,
How long until bombs burst in air?

“I can’t just leave them there.” I was whining now, no longer caring about the stress speaking took on my throat.

“They might not even be there.”

“But they could be.” I argued, throwing the covers off of my legs. What greeted me were two bandaged appendages; the gauze spotted brownish red from dried blood. The sight caused hesitation and I slowly took a better look at the yellow berry in front of me. Long yellow legs were encompassed in bruises and gashes and the right side of her face suffered a particularly nasty cut, “Why aren’t your wounds taken care of?”

“I was up most of the night taking care of yours.” She answered, pushing her weight off of the bed, “Do not worry about me. Your condition was and is much worse than mine – you sat in that tear gas for quite a while before I reached you.”

I bit the inside of my cheek until it bled as fear was replaced with gratitude, “Thank you for everything,” Cephei seemed to relax as I said that, her back turn to me, “but I can’t stay here. I have to try to help. They’ve done so much for me and I –“

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“I’ll go.”

“What?”

“I’ll go. You’ll attract too much attention.” And just like the previous night she disappeared behind a door, leaving me alone.

We’ve come too far
Just to let this die, to throw this away

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The song is We Are Not The World by Silverstein.

Also, if anyone is interested in doing a collaboration sim project we need two more people to join up with The Tuned Legacy. So far we have AFKthenad, Fruhurricane and myself on board. :] I’ll also post an update on this blog when I start doing my generations for it, in case anyone wants to read my parts. I recommend reading the whole thing, though, since so far it’s really good. :]

Generation 2

Chapter Twelve: Matisse Inc.

A/N: There was supposed to be an image of Mr. Matisse and Mr. Prelude at the very beginning but I seem to have lost Mr. Prelude. :X So excuse that little fact and enjoy. ❤

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Turns out Mr. Matisse – the man I was supposed to convince of our cause – was actually thinking about entering a partnership with Mr. Prelude – the businessman that had first voiced his opinion about inter-color relationships and my father’s sculpture. The only obstacle that stood in the way of their partnership was their varying opinions on the aforementioned issue. Mr. Matisse was not convinced that the government of Berry had lied to their citizens for all these years and had told Mr. Prelude he would require proof if he was expected to tarnish Matisse Inc.’s reputation. Mr. Prelude, of course, had been a target of the Resistance’s violence and a victim of the government’s negligence himself but could not convince Mr. Matisse to join the cause. He did not let this deter him, however, and began to look for adequate evidence. His search led him to the Uprising’s base in Bubbleport where he had been tipped off that the little girl pictured in ‘Can You See Me Now’ was real. Not only was she real, but alive and healthy and helping out the newest branch in Sugar Valley.

Noir seemed to believe that if Mr. Matisse partnered with Mr. Prelude, and thus joined the Uprising, that it would secure their victory in Bubbleport. I don’t pretend to know a lot about business, politics or revolutions but I assumed that meant Mr. Matisse was a very powerful man. An enormous amount of pressure fell onto my shoulders, my stomach whirling uncomfortably as I fixed the scarf on top of my head. I didn’t know if I could do this. If he said no, didn’t join us, it would be all my fault. What would I do then? I certainly couldn’t show my face back at the Sour Apple again.

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“How are you doing?” I didn’t have to turn around to know who was speaking; Noir’s deep voice had already become engrained into my brain. I threw a thumb up sign over my shoulders as I fastened the last button on my silk white blouse, my face still lined with apprehension, “You shouldn’t worry so much, we got this.” His encouragement was well meant but it didn’t quell the jitters rampaging through my veins.

I tried not to linger on that thought for too long as I pushed a strand of my yellow blonde hair behind my ear and out of sight. I took two tiny steps back, looking at myself in the small mirror that hung over the porcelain sink. The outfit Eden had bought me fit, albeit snugly. White slacks accompanied by the button down blouse made me look quiet professional, which worked well for the meeting the three of us were about to attend. Well, Eden was following us to the lobby, at least. Said he didn’t trust Noir enough to put my life completely in his hands – imagine the argument that fueled.

“Almost ready?” Noir yelled from nearby.

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I emerged from the bathroom slowly, trying my best to balance on the thin heels that were attached to my feet. I had no idea how women danced in these, I could barely walk, ‘Yes.’

Purple lips pulled up into a smile and my stomach instinctively flip-flopped, “Good. We have a long walk ahead of us. Eden is waiting downstairs.” He paused, looking at me with a lopsided smile plastered onto his face, “You look good, Estelle. Maybe he’ll hire you.” He ended his sentence with a wink, opening the door wide enough for me to scurry through. I did so as quickly as possible. I didn’t want him to notice the blood rushing to my face.

*
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“Mr. Noir and Miss Spring.” The hairs on my arms stood up as the sickly sweet voice called out our names, “Mr. Matisse is ready to see you.”

Noir stood promptly and the secretary’s blue lips pulled into a frown as her eyes flowed up and down the length of his body. She obviously was not impressed with his oversized sweater and jeans, or perhaps it was the perpetually shaggy hair that fell into his eyes. Either way, once I stood up she let out a deep breath, her shoulder relaxing slightly, “This way.”

She beckoned us forward with a wave of her pale blue hand, turning on her heels and heading towards the large door placed strategically beside her desk. I winced, taking absurdly small steps in order to keep my balance and ease the ache that was slowly worming its way up my ankle. As we approached her she flashed us a smile that did not quite reach her eyes and opened the door for the two of us.

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We stepped inside, neither of us saying a word for the other as we took in the lavish furniture that decorated the large office. Behind the large oak desk there was a blue male, his hair swept back and groomed. He was currently bent over paperwork, his attention caught elsewhere. I stood there, unsure of what to do with myself, until Noir strode forward and plopped himself down into one of the two plush seats that were available. I blushed, positive we should have waited to sit until they were offered to us, but slowly began to make my way forward. I was beside the open chair when Matisse became aware of our presence.

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“My apologies,” Matisse began, though he still had not looked up from whatever files had captured his attention, “There is no need to be so nervous, Miss Spring. Take a seat.” I wondered how he knew I was nervous, though my knees were quaking and my hands shivering, when he hadn’t even spared me a glance. I did as I was told, stuffing my hands between my legs in hopes that they would soon calm down.

“Mr. Matisse, we’ve come all this way. I’d appreciate your full attention.” Noir stated bluntly, his face deadpan. I cringed. Even though Noir spoke in a composed and elegant manner, it did not change the fact that he risked offending the very man we had come to convince.

I was more than surprised when bright blues rose to meet Noir’s heated lilac’s, smirking, “How incredibly rude of me,” Matisse sat up straight, folding his hands in front of him. He did not look apologetic in the slightest, “You must understand that I am an incredibly busy man.”

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“Yes, I do, sir. And I’m sure a busy man like yourself can appreciate how much of my time I have set aside to meet with you.”

I was beginning to entertain the thought of kicking Noir to make him hold his tongue – he was being extra feisty – but Matisse’s laughter shattered the silence that had fallen over the three of us before I could gather the courage, “You’re gutsy. I like that,” He nodded, glancing at me before returning his gaze to Noir, “Show me what you’ve got, kid.”

Noir leaned forward, looking intently at Matisse, “I’m sure you’ve seen ‘Can You See Me Now’?” Matisse nodded, looking rather bored at this turn in the conversation, “What if I told you the little girl was real?”

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“I’d tell you that you’re crazy.”

“And I’d tell you that you’re looking at her.” By now Noir’s grin was so large that it practically split his face in half. Matisse, on the other hand, looked startled and confused. His eyebrows were scrunched together, the wrinkles in his face becoming more apparent. It was only as his eyes slowly trailed away from the fire blazing behind Noir’s eyes to my more docile figure that clarity entered his bright blues. I averted my gaze almost immediately, the butterflies fluttering in my stomach at full force. I was certain I was going to be sick.

“Her?” It was a question more than a statement but I nodded, eyes still trained on my shoes. Anywhere but him, “You’re certain?” I wanted to snap at him that I was certain of my own heritage but I held my tongue or hands rather, nodding shyly again.

“And what proof do you –“ I had already assumed this question was going to come up and was prepared. Despite the nausea welling up within me, I raised one my hands to my head and gently tugged on the scarf that held my hair up. The yellow locks cascaded down my back before he had even finished his inquiry.

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He was stunned into a moment of silence before his eyes visibly harden, disbelief tensing his figure, “Hair dye.” He scoffed impatiently.

“Hair dye is illegal.” Noir pointed out, “has been for years.”

“Yes, but so are a lot of possessions I have acquired over the years. Nothing is impossible to find if you know where to look.”

I frowned at Mr. Matisse’s statement. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way and I suddenly had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Noir, however, didn’t blink twice. Instead he looked at me, “Would you be able to take out your contacts?”

I nodded, signing to him that I would be unable to put them back in but Mr. Matisse’s strong, authoritative tone caused me to hesitate in the middle of my sentence, “I’d appreciate it if you would not converse in a manner that I cannot follow. It is rude and frankly inappropriate given the situation.”

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“She’s mute.” Noir said dryly.

Matisse merely shrugged, “I am afraid that is not my problem.”

If looks could kill Noir’s profession would be staring. Lightly touching his arm, I shot him a small smile to calm down the lilac berry. I could tell he was approaching his boiling point fast and once he reached it nothing positive would be accomplished in this meeting. Of that I was sure.

It only took me a second to take out the little pieces of plastic that changed my eyes color. I balled them up in between my index finger and thumb, hiding my irises behind lashes and lids. Taking a deep breath I finally looked up, yellow clashing with blue as we held each other gazes.

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It was Matisse who eventually broke eye contact, gaze dropping down to the file in front of him again, “I need to process this.” He finally conceded, standing up and holding his hand out in front of him, “Thank you for your time, I will contact Mr. Prelude shortly and he will tell you my final verdict.”

Noir stood, much calmer than he had been just a few seconds prior, before shaking the hand that had been offered, “No, thank you.”

*

Luckily, Eden had a pair of sunglasses on hand for me to use on the walk back home. Noir was reciting what had happened to the teal berry excitedly as we walked down the now familiar city streets. They almost sounded like friends – almost. Despite the fact that I had walked this same exact path an hour ago, I was still gazing around wide-eyed, taking in every sound, scent and color that flooded my senses.

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Perhaps that was why I was the first to notice the crowd of people as we crossed a large intersection.

There were at least fifty people gather around a podium, some holding signs and others shouting at the top of their lungs. We were too far away to make sense of what they were saying – the signs were all just a blur of color from here – but the ear piercing wail of sirens soon engulfed the sound waves as multiple police cruisers began to encircle the protesters.

By now I had stopped walking, in awe of the scene unfolding in front of me. I vaguely heard Noir trying to get my attention and felt him tug at my shoulder gently. I shrugged off his touch; much too engrossed as the officers began to step out of their vehicles with weapons in hand. I felt the air in my lungs still as one orange cop raised his nightstick and slammed it into the side of a young green woman. After that chaos broke out – the protesters trying to overwhelm the ten officers with little regard for their own life. I heard Eden say something loudly, urgently, but he sounded so far away. I couldn’t understand what he was shouting about.

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I did not realize I had started running towards the conflict until my hands were grasping either side of the wooden podium, air wheezing painfully out of my lungs as I gazed straight ahead at the blood spilt pavement. In my haste my scarf had come undone and I was loosely aware of my sweat drenched hair tickling my exposed shoulder blades and the fact that my vision no longer had a dark tint to it. It wasn’t until I saw a teenager, his skin a brilliant yellow, being beaten by one of the officers that I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing – not again.

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“Stop it!”

Generation 2

Chapter Eleven: A Day of Firsts

AN: I feel like the end of this chapter is sort of blah but I don’t know how to fix it so I am just going to publish this now. Ignore the fact that Estelle’s tights change halfway through the chapter.

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I never realized how stressful living with new people could be. We had only been together a little over thirty hours, if you counted the car ride over, and I’m pretty sure Noir already wanted to strangle Eden. Actually, now that I think about it he always wanted to strangle Eden but that was beside the point. We were a potluck of personalities – most of which clashed, to be honest. When Eden wasn’t planning his own activities and rallies, he was attempting to help Noir organize his. Only, Noir didn’t want his help and seemed to think that everything would work out fine in the end as long as he had me around. Shiloh was constantly babysitting me; which was really just her sitting in the room making sure I didn’t give away our position while she berated every molecule of my being.

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Noir spoke to me about Shiloh. It was a short conversation at best and took place as she was showering but it led us to where we were now; in the living room playing a game of dominos together. All four of us, actually. I told Noir I would put up with Shiloh on the sole condition that he played nice with Eden.

Competitive trash talk escaped Noir every single turn and sometimes Eden would argue that Noir was breaking the rules, but it was nothing that hindered the flow of the game. Thinking back, I guess it was a miracle we even made it halfway through without any major mishaps. I’m not sure what set Shiloh off – I had been quiet the whole time, trying to be as discreet as possible – but I honestly still didn’t really understand the directions and needed help making my next move. Noir leaned over, looking at my chips, before he began to sign back an answer to my inquiry. We were in the middle of a conversation when she slammed her fist onto the table, sending a few pieces flying into the air. I jumped, not expecting such a violent reaction, and could only cringe as she started to hiss, “This has got to be a joke.”

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All three of us stayed silent, not really sure how to respond, “How can you stand this? She’s like a child – never been on elevator, never played dominos, can’t fudging speak!” Her voice gradually rose and all I could imagine was glass shattering like in those cartoons I had watched when I was young.

“Shiloh,” Noir sighed, leaning away from me and turning a tired eye to her. He looked much like a parent whose hyper child had acted up one too many times that day, “please, let’s just play the game.”

“I would be glad to play the game if she knew how to! This is the fourth time she’s had to ask for help, it’s ridiculous. This isn’t hard; it’s not a fudging science experiment. It’s dominos!”

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“She did not grow up like you or me,” Eden chided calmly, “the princess is trying her best.”

It probably would have been better if he hadn’t said anything, “Ugh. And you, you make me wanna barf. With your ‘princess’ and civil tone. Why don’t you just say what you want? What’s holding you back from being honest?”

Eden smiled brightly at Shiloh even as she screamed in his face but he didn’t respond to her taunting. It was Noir who rolled his eyes and stood, grabbing her by her upper arm and dragging her to her feet, “Shiloh, I’m losing my patience with your victim facade. Cut it out before I kick you out.”

She turned her nose up at him, pink eyes flashing with a mixture of betrayal and anger before she yanked herself free of his grip and strolled into the bathroom without a word. Only the soft beating of water against the ceramic titles flooded the room as Noir ran a hand through his hair, “I’m going to take her out,” He stated a moment later, looking down at Eden and me, “Will you be alright on your own, Estelle?”

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I nodded, still a little overwhelmed by the whole situation that had gone down. Luckily, Eden was more aware of what was going than I was, “That is a good idea. Estelle will be safe with me.”

“I think it would be best if you just tried to stay out of her way for a while,” Noir paused, looking at me, “especially you.”

There wasn’t much I could do except nod again.

*

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I managed to stay out of Shiloh’s war path for an hour or so, right up till she was about to leave. I had thrown myself onto my bed and was studying the ceiling – there were little bumps up there that I could make shapes out of occasionally – when her voice graced my ears, “Did you bring any all-white clothes?”

I shook my head, not really understanding the point of such a question. My answer appeared to be the wrong one, however, because the familiar look of agitation over took her features, “How are you supposed to pass as a white berry in yellow clothes? They’ll arrest you before you get down the block.”

I realized she had a point – I had known that berries outside of their own color were arrested in Bubbleport, I just hadn’t thought about it. I had always worn yellow, it was natural to me. I hadn’t grasped that it could jeopardize the whole mission.

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“You really are useless, aren’t you?” She scoffed as she walked away.

And for the first time I thought she might be right.

*

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I stayed in the bedroom for hours after Noir and Shiloh left, mostly wallowing in self-pity. I had no desire to be in the living room when they returned. Honestly, I was hoping I would already be asleep when they got home – dealing with Shiloh before bed was something I was not up for. Her words hadn’t caused me to cry but I was sulking, curled up in the fetal position, when Eden rapped his knuckled gently against the wall.

“Princess?” He called tentatively.

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I grunted in response but rolled over so I could see him, “Are you hungry? I could order pizza.”

I sat up so fast the blood rushed to my head. I fought off the light-headedness and blinked away the black spots that obscured my vision, not able to mask my excitement. I had always wanted to try pizza but no place delivered to my home back in Sugary Valley. I must have looked like a kid because a smile broke across Eden’s usually sullen expression, “I shall take that as a yes.” And with that he disappeared down the hall.

He reappeared a few minutes later, leaning against the frame with his arms folded neatly across his chest, “It should be here in thirty minutes.” I nodded, my stomach growling it’s appreciation at him. I was expecting him to leave me alone again – Eden had never made any attempts to really get to know me personally before – but instead he roamed further into the room, looking at everything but me, “Do you want to talk about it?”

I crinkled my nose, not sure what he was getting at, ‘About what?’

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He only glanced at me long enough to read my gesture before he was inspecting the bed sheets, “About what is bothering you, Princess.”

I frowned and shook my head. Eden seemed to understand since he stood up straighter and bowed slightly in my direction, “Very well. I will be in the living room if you change your mind.”

*
Exactly thirty minutes had passed when there was a knock on the front door and I felt my stomach whirl with anticipation. I listened intently as the soft click of the lock sounded and Eden’s voice floated to my ears – accompanied by another voice I did not recognize. I stayed in the back until I heard the door open again but as soon as it had slammed shut behind Eden I was rushing out, practically skipping with enthusiasm.

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“I order cheese and peperoni,” He sounded amused as he spoke, his teal blues glancing at my bouncing figure, “Which do you prefer; I’ll make you a plate.”

My eyes lit up as he opened the first cardboard box, the scent of grease and cheese flooding my nostrils, ‘Both!’ I signed in my excitement.

Eden laughed, something I had never heard him do before. It was smooth and cool and I found myself smiling as he spoke, “You can choose what we watch on the telly, if you wish. I’ll be right there.”

I nodded, pausing as he picked up the first slice of pizza – the cheese oozing, stretching and finally snapping away from the rest of the pie before I managed to pull myself away from the sight. I couldn’t find anything on television, though. We didn’t get many channels and every show seemed boring so eventually I just gave up, deciding that some unknown indie sci-fi movie was as good as it was going to get.

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True to his words, Eden joined me a few minutes later. He handed me my plate before sitting down on the opposite side of the sofa. I took a chunk out of the cheese slice and quickly regretted it, the sweet sauce burning my tongue. I swallowed, fanning my tongue in hopes that it would quell the pain faster.

“Ah, I’m sorry Princess. I should have warned you that it is hot.”

I held my hand up to let him know it was fine.

The rest of the meal passed in silence. It wasn’t until we were done eating that Eden turned the volume down and sighed, looking me straight in the eye, “I really wish you would tell me what is bothering you.”

‘Nothing is wrong.’

“I can tell that you are lying.” His voice was bland and I frowned.

‘How?’

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“Just a few minutes ago you were smiling and lively but just now,” He paused, trying to find the words to continue, “Your eyes were empty.”

‘It’s silly.’

“Sometimes it is the silly things that hurt the most.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that, though it was small and I tried to hide it. Maybe Eden was right – talking to someone about the problem might not solve it but it could make me feel better. A little less useless; a little more confident. It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one that let the little things pull them down, ‘I forgot to pack all-white clothes.’

“That’s it?” His teal brows rose in surprise, the ghost of a smile fluttering onto his lips.

I just shrugged before signing, ‘I’m useless. I should have known I would need them-’

“You are not useless,” Eden interrupted, suddenly sounding much more serious and stern than he had a few moments ago, “Princess, you have never done anything like this before. Making a mistake makes you a Berry, not useless.”

‘Thank you,’ I signed, stretching out my limbs as I stood up. He watched me carefully as a I continued, ‘I think I’ll go to bed now.’

“Sweet dreams, Princess. I’ll be here if you need me.”

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I fell asleep faster that night than the previous – most likely because Shiloh wasn’t in the room, hovering over me. When I woke up in the morning there was a pair of folded clothes on the dresser next to my bed, a brilliant white against the pink of the wood. The price tags were still attached and as the sleep left my vision, I realized there was a card placed on top. Without ever leaving the warmth of my bed, I reached out and scanned the looping cursive that sprawled across the note.

‘I hope these fit you, Princess.’

Uncategorized

Chapter Ten: Shiloh

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Bubbleport was huge.

A metal jungle that disappeared into the clouds; the skyscrapers that loomed above us seemed to stretch on forever. The sun had begun to rise, peaking over the edge of the earth but still too low to be seen over the buildings. We were parked in an alleyway, sharp shadows casted over the purple death machine as we waited for our guide. The walls here looked slick to the touch, coated with unknown residue. I was busy looking out the window, disguise in place, wondering why anyone would throw plastic bags and food all over the pavement below when I heard the clicking of high heels.

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Noir and Eden were already outside the vehicle, leaning on opposite sides of the hood. When the pink girl stopped in front of them they were ready to greet her, “Shiloh, it’s been a while.”  Noir stated, opening his arms for her to step into. And she did without hesitation, wrapping her arms snugly around Noir’s waist for a bit longer than necessary.

When they pulled apart she turned to Eden, who took her hand and gave it small kiss, “Thank you for securing a place for us.”

“Where’s this girl you’ve gone and made such a ruckus about?” Shiloh asked, her heels clicking as she made her way around the men to the passenger side window. Her soft pink hair fell around her heart shaped face, plump lips pulled into a scowl as she gazed down at me. I recognized her at once, as well as the nasty feelings she caused to swell up within me. She had been in Sugar Valley the night Noir had ‘kidnapped’ me; blown a kissed to him through the windshield.  I swallowed the tension that was building up in my bones and waved to her, smiling. She rolled her eyes and turned on her heels, clicking her way back to Noir.

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“She doesn’t look like anything special.” She sneered, though her words were muffled through the car.

Eden looked like he was going to say something but Noir managed to beat him to it, “Play nice, Shiloh.”

“Whatever, follow me.” Her order came calmly, arms folding over her chest. Noir looked back to my figure in the car to Shiloh before he motioned for me to come out.

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It was Eden who walked around, opening the door for me before I managed to get it open myself. Feet firmly on the dirty pavement, I turned back around in order to grab some of the bags that were stuffed in the back. Eden stopped me mid motion, smiling kindly as he took the duffle bags and suitcases out of my hands, “You should not worry about such things. Catch up with Noir, I can handle this.”

I paused, always so stunned by how polite and courteous this teal man was to women. His mother must have really engrained manners into him. Soon enough, however, I was briskly walking towards the purple and pink heads that had just disappeared through a greasy backdoor. I followed suit, surprised when I ended up in the middle of a kitchen.

Cooks were decked out in their white chef outfits. The sound of knives hitting wooden cutting boards and the sizzling of food permeated the area. The smells made my stomach growled, reminding me that it had been some time since I had last eaten. Through the chaos and yelling, my attention latched onto two figures that didn’t belong and I instantly began moving through the kitchen, trying to hurry towards them. I bumped into a few people and they all looked at me like I was crazy but all I could do was mouth ‘I’m sorry’ and keeping trucking along

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Bursting through double doors, I frantically took in the lobby I had entered. There was a pretty orange receptionist at the front desk. She only spared me a passing glance before she went back to watching the television that hung over the plush yellow couches. I paid her little attention as I realized there were elevators on my left. Shiloh’s dainty hand was pressing a button I couldn’t see as I headed towards them. I could only watch as the steel doors began to close; too far away too do anything. I could feel the familiar sting of liquid build up, blurring my vision. It was my first day in Bubbleport and I had already been left behind, too slow to keep up.

“Estelle, what are you doing? Get over here.” I blinked a few times, clearing my vision, to see Noir’s hand resting on the steel doors of the elevator – preventing them from closing. It was silly, really, but the gesture caused my face to light up, my stomach quickly flooding with anticipation as I hurried into the small steel cage.

Once inside, I stood between Shiloh and Noir, squeaking a little when the device jolted and our ascent began. I could feel my eyes grow wider with every beep that sounded, signaling we had climbed another flight.

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“You look like you’ve never been on a fudging elevator before.” Shiloh snorted.

‘I haven’t.’ I mouthed and signed, not letting her annoyance get in the way of my fun for the moment.

Shiloh’s eyebrows rose as my fingers spoke to her, eyes slowly trailing over to Noir, “What in bubblegum is this girl doing?” She asked him. I might as well have been an alien from the look she was giving me.

Noir found the whole thing humorous, “She’s mute, Shiloh. She’s using sign language. She said she’s never been on an elevator before.”

“Oh my berry. Noir, she’s fudging useless. What good is she? Why are you putting yourself at risk for such a dumb girl?” Shiloh ranted, voice rising to a dangerously high pitch.

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“Cut it out, Shiloh. She’s not useless -” Noir was cut off as the elevator dinged, the steel doors opening on the tenth floor. Shiloh didn’t stick around for him to continue his lecture. The moment the doors opened her heels were clicking down the marble hallway, only stopping once she reached a room number a few doors down. Noir followed close behind, picking up his suitcase and giving me a reassuring smile before he headed after her.

I followed suit, nervously waiting as Shiloh produced a plastic card and swiped it through some electric device. The light changed to green and the lock snapped open before Shiloh threw the door open and walked inside, “Home sweet home.” She welcomed, folding her arms once again.

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The hotel room was fairly small but had everything we would need to survive for a few weeks – a full kitchen, a bathroom. The only factor that made me nervous was that I only counted two doorways – which meant there was only one bedroom. Noir must have been on the same train of thought as me because he set his suitcase down with a thud before walking towards the couch, “Does it pull out?”

Shiloh shrugged, running a hand through her hair and sighing, “I don’t know. Jasper booked the room and paid for it.” She dismissed, stepping further inside.

I made a mental note to thank Jasper as I made my way towards the second door on the right, opening it and peering into the sunlit room. There wasn’t much inside – two lumpy beds and two night stands. Both beds were doubles which meant I was supposed to share a room with two boys. For weeks. With no one else around. I felt my cheeks glow just at the thought.

“Fudge. No luck with the couch.”  Noir declared as he snuck up behind me, his body heat enveloping me in a cocoon of warmth – which, by the way, did nothing to cool my face, “Looks like we’ll all be bunking in there.”

“Speaking of sharing a room,” Shiloh purred, “I’m staying here for the duration of your trip. Someone here needs to babysit the mute while you boys go to work.”

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Noir stepped away from me, the cool air chilling the skin that had just been heated by his presence. I tried my best not to let her words sting too deep but they lashed graver than I would have like, “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Shiloh-“

“Aw, why not love? You know how much fun it is to have me around,” By now she was sauntering over to him, her hips swaying too much to be a natural.  A sour taste built up in the back of my throat as annoyance began to flow through my veins. I found the horrible idea of ripping her hair out oddly appealing as her arms coiled around Noir’s neck like a cobra.

“Shiloh, stop it. We’re here on business, not for fun.” Noir sounded oddly husk even as he attempted to unravel himself from Shiloh’s arms.

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She smiled, unfazed by the rejection, “I’m staying. That’s final.” And before Noir could even argue, she escaped into the bathroom and I swore I could hear the shower start running.

Great.

*

The first night was horrible. Eden refused to sleep in the same room as Shiloh and me, saying that women needed their space and that it would be improper to impose his presence onto us. After a long and drawn out argument with Noir – which I tried to ignore most of – it was decided that both boys would sleep out in the living room. They ended up playing rock-paper-scissors to see who won the couch and who had to sleep on the floor.

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Let’s just say it didn’t end well for Noir.

I thought it was going to be uncomfortable sharing a room with two men. Well, I would have much rather had a communal bedroom with them then with Shiloh. Her constant taunting and complaining was irritating to say the least – not to mention, made it almost impossible for me to concentrate on the novel I was currently reading. I didn’t dare tell anyone, though. I had a feeling if I did she would only make my life worse.

Plus, she already thought I was crybaby. I didn’t want her to feel like she was right.

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I could handle her on my own.