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 When Things Go Bad: A Compilation, Various Dates | @Bruce Vaughan
Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 5 2018, 07:46 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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May 24; 9:45pm
Clover Horseshoe - Irish Bar and Pub


Reese couldn't remember most of the last few days. He'd shown up to work the last three days barely able to stand. His parents called and texted, but that was all they could do with the press breathing down their throats. Every time the press saw Reese, they swarmed him -- they took his drinking as guilt and his inability to string words together as admittance of genophobia.

If he had been treading water, drowning but just keeping his head above the waves, now he had an anchor attached to his legs and his arms bound to his sides.

He wasn't sure he'd eaten a substantial meal in over a week. Despite it, anyone who saw him would have said he was fine (the way that he was always fine). He sat at the bar, staring at the mirror. He saw someone sit down beside him without his peripheral vision and then he heard a voice. The words were kind; a simple, easy question from a brunette You're running low. What are you drinking?[/b] He'd joked to Bruce once or twice when they had discussed the Scene, and how much Reese had never been in it (and yet how he had always had lovers with dom-ish tendencies) that he just [i]attracted that type.

Looking over, he stared at her and then his eyes moved back to the mirror in silence.

"I'm Hannah." she offered.

Reese looked over again, but he didn't speak.

"Now it's your turn." she prompted.

"Reese."

"That'--" she started.

"What do you want?" he snapped. The woman was taken aback. "If you want to fucking say something just say it. Jesus fucking Christ."

"I--" she started again.

"Jesus." Reese spun off of his chair and onto his feet, which was a horrendous idea. He lost his footing quickly enough and his hand landed on a guy's shoulder who glanced up and then pulled back.

A pin dropping could have been heard at the table that had been talking rowdily. The first person spoke, but it wasn't the guy whose shoulder had stopped Reese from braining himself on the table. "That's that guy from the news."

Another voice added his name and a third an arbitrary fact. The forth said, hushed though Reese heard it well enough, "He gave his daughter away because he couldn't look at her."

His temper flared. Bruce had never had the displeasure of seeing his friend start one of these fights. Had never witnessed the way that he said such inappropriate things that it was hard to imagine that he said them merely to get a rise out of someone. (Perhaps it was why no one had questioned that he was in TU; even his family had believed it when it dropped like a figurative bomb and destroyed everything.) The sentence he said was a mixture of profanity and slurs as he picked up the drink that was nearest to him and drank it.

The table was silent. Maybe none of them believed that someone would say something like that in public. Then, the guy directly next to him said: "Fuck off, man."

Blue eyes moved towards him. And then Reese reached over and set his hand on the guy's shoulder, massaging it as the guy got stiffer and stiffer, and then he tugged the guy's chair out from under him and tugged him backwards so that he got a good jolt at his hit the floor but didn't smash his jaw. The table rose; shouts exploded and Reese got exactly what he wanted. (The words hadn't done it this go around. He'd had to get physical, which he hated, but he needed this to keep going.)

The first impact was against his head -- a fist. The second was against his stomach, a kneel. He'd stopped fighting the instant he'd been hit and so that he was on the ground with three guys pounding him seemed somewhat excessive, until someone tried to help him up and he slugged them as well and hit the floor all over again.

He'd promised Bruce he'd stop fighting -- he'd promised he wouldn't aim at people who could kill him.

This guy was telekinetic; he'd seen him lifting his glass without touching it. He could feel his airway tightening. One hand grasped at his neck, uselessly; the other scratched into the wooden panels on the floor.

Bruce didn't know. Bruce wouldn't care.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 5 2018, 10:04 PM
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“Were you doing anything tonight? I thought we could have another round.”

The call surprised Bruce only because his frequent and revolving company these past few weeks had demonstrated little interest in encores. Yet the woman from two nights prior contacted him out of the blue during what should have been his lunch break (if he hadn’t begun working through lunch as the corresponding coping mechanism – busy days and occupied nights).

“Shall we get dinner first? I know the perfect place for drinks and Irish fare…”

They had arrived at the Clover Horseshoe for a late meal after Bruce stopped off at his apartment to change. A fresh suit, cologne, and a comb through his hair transformed him from a physically and emotionally weary businessman into a private citizen with an attractive prospect on the horizon. They shared Irish nachos and corned beef sliders, punctuated their small talk with overt signs of flirtation, and played footsie under the wooden table.

“Coffee? We wouldn’t want to fall asleep too early,” Bruce remarked, already reaching for the appropriate menu.

“Cake?” She proposed in return. “I thought I saw something about pineapple upside cake on the specials board.”

They ordered two coffees, Bruce with a shot of espresso, and a slice of cake to share. From their table, they couldn’t hear what occurred at the bar; the physical distance and the ambiance separated them like a gulf. Yet, when the commotion drew their attention, people shouting a name.

Not a name. Reese’s name.

Bruce’s shoulders tensed, but he glanced over in time to see Reese pull out a chair, for a stranger to fall, and then for his fist to slam into Reese’s face.

The mental manipulator’s stomach flipped; his brow creased, and his knuckles turned white where they gripped his fork too tightly. Then Reese went down, and the barrage of fists continued.

“Excuse me.” He rose to his feet with grace ill-fitting the situation. Elegant Havenite Bruce Vaughan.

“Bruce?”

“I’ll be right back.”

A long, confident stride brought him to the center of the bar, until he stood behind the men fighting. Shoulders squared, hands folded in front of him, he appeared both confident and non-violent; nobody could think that he would slug a stranger in a bar fight.

He didn’t have to.

“You’ll stop now.” His authoritative tone startled the telekinetic, caused him to lose his concentration, releasing his hold on Reese’s throat.

Turning around, the man stared, bewildered, at Bruce who had the audacity to stand there as though he owned the place, exuding the same aura as he did at Shangri-La. As though he owned this pub and could expel anyone he wished with merely a gesture.

He could. In fact, he didn’t require the gesture.

That had always been the most disconcerting aspect of his powers - how nobody could be sure when he used them. That without blinking, wiggling his fingers, or speaking a word, a person could find themselves on their hands and knees licking his shoes clean, and they would think it their idea.

“The only thing worse than a genophobe is a tangerine.”

Blue eyes glimmered dangerously, as his expression hardened. The mental manipulator was long used to hearing accusations and slurs, either stated to his face in a confrontation or whispered behind his back when others thought him out of earshot. Deviant. Pimp. Smut-peddler. Sociopath. Genejoke. Devo. They rolled off his back.

This? Those three syllables raised his hackles. Until three weeks ago when the news broke, nobody had ever thought to call him a tangerine, not even with his degrees from Nocht or the Haven address on his ID card.

“If you have something to say to me, then say it,” he remarked flatly. Wind whipped through his hair, the other man’s powers – a test. A threat. Bruce repaid it. “I wouldn’t, if I were you. Don’t get on my bad side.”

Less posturing and more a statement of fact. The confidence of his powers bolstered him, while a childhood and adolescence in Evesdown ensured that he found nothing amiss about this. This man could send him across the room with a thought, and, in turn, Bruce could set his brain on fire (figuratively speaking).

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 10 2018, 09:29 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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There was something disconcerting in the way that Reese laid there, writhing. In the wee-hours that constituted the night before Valentine's Day, when he had called his friend in a panic and been invited to spend the evening and night with him - he had looked frightened thinking about how the bar stool had come in contact with him; he had never wanted to have it happen again.

He hadn't wanted to die.

Today, his expression looked almost at peace, despite the way that his body panicked and writhed as the path to his lungs became unattainable. And then he could breathe again and he opened his eyes, woozy from a lack of oxygen and an abundance of alcohol.

His eyebrows knit and he tried to roll over, only to find that he hurt worse than he expected and let out a pained groan as he tried to push himself onto his hands and knees, fumbled over his own limbs and the weakness that resided in them now and curled back onto the floor.

He wasn't entirely processing the conversation even as Bruce spoke with the other man. Technically, his ears were working, but his brain was not focused on eavesdropping at the moment. Instead, he didn't process that it was his friend until his final statement.

And then he spoke as if he was lost at sea, his only companion for the last month a hunk of seaweed named Kelpie. "Bruce?" His eyes searched as if he couldn't see anything despite not having lost vision by any means. He couldn't find him with the dim lighting; but he knew that voice. "Bruce..." He closed his eyes again.

"Fuck." was the only word that summarized his feelings at the moment and so it was what fell from his lips. He tried to get up again, lost his footing again, caught himself just before his face smashed into the ground, and then decided to become satisfied with how comfortable floors could be as his eyes closed. This time, no one reached out to help him up -- he'd slugged the last person who tried to come to his aid.

His head was spinning and he shoved his hand into his pocket to try to find his phone. The one he produced wasn't the one that they had bought together. It looked like a burner with a dull screen and a physical keypad. He started to dial a number by heart and then pressed the phone to his ear. In his pocket, Bruce's phone buzzed twice but Reese didn't hear it and slammed the phone onto the floor in frustration, then again, and again.

Finally, his eyes landed on the man who had once been his friend. He'd saved him. Had he saved him? The hand that wasn't now scraped up from impact with raw wood reached out and he looked between the two evos as if he wasn't entirely sure what had occurred. Then he processed it. "You saved me." he didn't have the presence of mind to be embarrassed.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 15 2018, 09:54 AM
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The telekinetic had far more that he wanted to say to Bruce, upset that this man had come to the defense of Reese despite his press conference denouncing the man and stating that they were no longer friends, no longer in communication at all. That struck him as a betrayal as intense as the revelation in the first place. How could a man as well-connected as the notorious Bruce Vaughan have been unaware? Someone who had the temerity to speak as though he belonged to Evesdown despite moving into Haven, surrounding himself by Typics generally and an inordinate number of genophobes? How could such a man be anything but a tangerine, throwing money as though that would change his ID card from blue to orange? Adopting the role of the pet Evolute while claiming that he was somehow superior to Rebecca Ramsey?

However, there emerged a dangerous glimmer in Bruce’s eyes, not quite daring the telekinetic to act, instead warning him of what would inevitably follow should he do so. Several seconds passed in silence; despite no mind-reading abilities, Bruce could predict the man’s thoughts. Were the rumors true? Which rumors were true? Rumor or not, this man possessed some ability to play with his mind. Could he act before Bruce retaliated? What distance was required? Would it be permanent? Would it hurt?

Was it worth it to engage with him?

The answer to that last one was a resounding “no.”

The telekinetic didn’t adopt the submissive posture of slumped shoulders, a bowed head, or lowered gaze. Yet his demeanor changed, the almost imperceptible shift in the air as danger dissipated and their argument ended abruptly. He sniffed indignantly, muttered another barb about Bruce’s apparent self-loathing, glared in Reese’s direction, and collected his friends to leave.

Throughout the exchange, Bruce maintained peripheral awareness of Reese, struggling on the ground, murmuring profanity, expressing his gratitude – all evidence that he could breathe again.

Reese might be elated to see the mental manipulator, might consider him his savior in this moment no different from how the Malachites would view Malachi’s return, but Bruce had nothing to say to the younger man.

He would not, could not, could never turn a blind eye to another person in distress, not to Reese despite the intensity of the betrayal and the hurt that trapped his heart in a vise even now.

He pulled the comb from his back pocket, as much a sign of contempt as a soothing gesture, the former aimed at the retreating telekinetic, sending the broader message that his power and presence were so trifling that Bruce thought nothing of banishing even the remnants – in this case his tousled strands of hair. The latter from the distress of watching Reese turn purple as he gasped futilely for air, the frustration of the standstill with the Evolute responsible, his hurt over everything. Slowly, he smoothed his hair into place, sparing not a word for the younger man.

Finally, he glanced in the large mirror to check himself and spoke quietly over his shoulder to Reese’s reflection. “Do yourself a favor and stop drinking.”

Not only drinking but the entire culture around it. What society encouraged – drinking in bars was preferable to drinking alone, as the former was considered a social activity and the latter indicative of alcoholism. How Reese sought oblivion and atonement in other people’s fists, thus risking his life each and every time. Going out where someone might attack him of their own accord. Ruining what tatters remained of his life after the news broke.

With that, he straightened his lapels and returned to the far end of the tavern to rejoin his date.

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 15 2018, 06:24 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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May 29, 10:46PM


Whether Reese had heeded the suggestion to step away from alcohol or not was not what was important that evening. Instead, Julian Marshall had received a call that had thrown him immensely. He'd seen Reese in the afternoon on Thursday -- he'd seemed upset (he never didn't), but he wasn't any worse than he had been the last month. In fact, he seemed better than he had been.

He was under the creeping hope that Bruce was going to forgive him. Reese had explained when Julian awkwardly tried to douse Reese's hopes with reality that he understood this wasn't a quick fix; he understood that they would never be friends again, not like they used to be.

Given that it was Reese, the interaction had gone incredibly smoothly. Break downs, panic attacks, and awkward silences (back-filled by agonizing apologies) hadn't occurred during their late lunch that had taken place at a little property in the outskirts of the city near the edge of the Dome, where now-and-again you could see a deer eating grass just out of reach. Reese had been pleasant, though he let Julian do most of the talking. He had sworn at his usual rate and hadn't smiled.

Everything was standard except that he didn't have "whatever's on tap" with his lunch. Instead, he got water and nursed it as if his mind had mixed up a normal man's water-to-alcohol ratio.

So the phone call was confusing.

"You're listed as Reese's emergency contact. Please let him know that if he doesn't show up to work tomorrow; he will be finding another job."

And then he'd hung up.

That had been at seven in the morning. He'd proceeded to call everyone. First, Reese's phone -- it went to voice mail; then Theo to see when he'd last seen his brother -- not since Preston, the public relations specialist, had suggested he step away. He asked Theo to ask Wendy if she'd seen her father (but avoid scaring her) -- she hadn't. He'd of course called his own wife and asked her to send out her feelers to all of her friends, knee deep in gossip who might have known if Reese had been spotted around Haven.

He hadn't.

Somewhere in the midst of that, he'd gone to Reese's house, pounded on the door, opened it, and found it the way it always looked -- spotless. There was a strange scent in the air that Julian couldn't place, but Reese wasn't there.

He called On the Rocks (only the find out Reese had been asked not to come back until things calmed down); he called a dozen bars and clubs he knew that Reese frequented, and asked if they knew any others that Reese might go to. And then he called a Irish Pub he'd never heard of before.

"Yeah. He was here a couple nights ago. Got into a fight, but that evo who's running for council broke it up."

So when Julian arrived thirty-eight minutes later at the cottage beside Shangri-La, he looked less than his usual polished self, born and bred into money. Instead, he looked just as he was--an anxious father whose suicidal son hadn't (apparently) been seen since Thursday of the week prior.

He spoke through the door with a raised voice, not waiting for it to open, but instead announcing his presence like a king who could not be bothered to develop the art of patience. (Perhaps it was a trait that Reese had learned from his father.) "Bruce, it's Julian Marshall."

And when the door opened, he said with desperation written in his face and eyes, though not yet in his voice: "Tell me my son is here."

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 10:13 AM
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Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Sunday night – unlike its compatriot Friday – was not considered the universal date night. Rather than starting the weekend, it brought up the rear, with the reminder that the week began the next morning.

However, Bruce had fallen into a steady pattern of seeking company at night irrespective of the calendar date or the day of the week. Fridays, Tuesdays, Sundays…they blended together in purpose, providing a catalyst for filling his calendar outside of general social convention. Besides, tomorrow was a city holiday, which rendered Sunday a Saturday night of sorts – an extension of the weekend with the confidence that another full day of rest and relaxation awaited.

His parents’ Civic Day cookout loomed on the horizon, freeing him from their typical Sunday get-together obligations. Without that to ground him, he threw himself into work instead, taking on an additional weekend shift. Further prompting him to take additional care at Shangri-La during the day, as he would only complete morning rounds tomorrow and then disappear to Evesdown for the rest of the holiday. Although it pained him, he had offered to lie low, not wishing to disrupt the event; he wasn’t a pariah banned from Evesdown or any place with other Evolutes as Reese had become, but Bruce still wanted no fallout to touch his family beyond the shared surname and familial bonds.

Of course, those familial bonds led his parents to dismiss the possibility and instead insist that he arrive on time and with dessert.

After hosting a pre-Civic Day party for some of his regulars and his employees, he had returned to his apartment, showered, changed into more casual clothing, eaten a light supper, and then went to Nocht to check in with Larissa and circle around should someone in his age bracket and receptive to overtures appear. Forty minutes in, he met a woman a couple of years his senior, who after a shared drink and some back and forth, returned with him to his apartment.

They had finished only twenty minutes before their unexpected visitor. Like a gentleman, Bruce had let her shower first, and thus he was still drying himself when he heard the knock. Whatever preferences he had to ignore a visitor simultaneously intensified and waned when that visitor announced he was Reese’s father. The mental manipulator made short work of his hair while changing into his clothing from earlier, now wrinkled from the time spent on the floor.

“I’ll be right back,” he told Marigold, kissing her once on the cheek before retreating from the bedroom and crossing the length of his apartment to the front door. Julian’s eyes were wild with concern, more haunted than even the first time they had met during Reese’s intake session six and a half years ago. Was Reese there?

Of course not. They hadn’t seen or spoken to one another since the bar fight last week, and Bruce had been pointedly not taking his calls before that, after the news broke. Slowly he shook his head in denial and spoke soberely. “I don’t know where your son is, Mr. Marshall.”

It was a Sunday night. Past behavior and general alcoholism indicated that he was drinking alone somewhere against all reasonable advice.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 08:04 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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The silence weighed in the air after Bruce answered, as Julian nodded slowly. He was his son's father, and there were moments that seemed like Reese was much more like his family than he seemed to think. Silence when there should have been discourse in this moment.

No reaction instead of a negative one.

Slowly, Julian processed the implications of that. He had almost had hope when he had seen the way that Bruce looked barely put together, that he looked like he had freshly showered, but was dressed, in the evening hours. That his clothing was wrinkled in a way that Julian, as a man who once been middle aged and before that young, recognized. For a moment, he had had hope that Reese was truly there and the seemingly crazy things his son had said at lunch were not unfounded and as pathetic as he had believed.

But they were. If Julian had read the situation right, Bruce had moved on in a way that Reese had, and could, not. It was perhaps what they all should have expected.

Finally, he spoke. "Alright. Alright." His voice was still even, as if he was having to recalculate everything again "Thank you."

He saw no reason the burden Bruce with the details of what had or had not happened. They had been friends -- his son who had smiled again for a few months and this man who still had the decency to answer a door for his ex's father -- but it had passed.

And then he began to turn to take his leave. "Have a good evening, Bruce. If you do hear from him, please let us know."

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 11:28 PM
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Over the past four weeks, Bruce had devoted no time to musing on a more intimate relationship with Reese. From the younger man’s admission during Valentine’s Day about his libido to their mismatched orientations, the black box had prevented such consideration. Thinking led to wanting and wanting led to action.

Those assumptions, coupled with the younger man’s demonstrated pattern of inappropriate behavior during aftercare and mistaking Bruce for his wife (and assuming she was still alive), contextualized the kiss. Not indicative of interest, not for him at all. Easy to dismiss.

Followed by the breaking news and the past three and a half weeks. Bruce denouncing Reese and cutting off contact for his own sanity. Followed by his coping mechanisms which included Marigold waiting for him in his bedroom at this moment.

These weeks later, the betrayal still wounded him deeply; seeing Reese last week only confirmed that. Yet as Julian offered a cryptic platitude and turned to leave, the same internal struggle – his emotions on a teeter-totter between anger, hurt, and disgust on one end and concern on the other. None of this played out on his features; he remained as stone-faced as Julian during this tug of war. As with the incident at the bar, the latter reigned supreme because of a similar implication.

Reese was depressed and had self-harming tendencies; Julian’s behavior indicated that his son was missing. And it was quite possible the worst had happened.

Bruce took two steps forward to prevent Julian’s egress. “When did you last hear from him?”

Basic logic dictated it had been between Thursday night and this evening, but at least a full day because they wouldn’t panic if he had been out of contact since this morning. Despite all of the other factors, that wouldn’t prompt the older man to seek Bruce’s knowledge here. That was a wide enough spread that any possibility might be responsible…depending on Julian’s response.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 18 2018, 06:31 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Julian hesitated when the question was asked. He considered whether it was something he should answer, not because he believed that Bruce would do something inappropriate with the information, but because the younger man seemed to be having a pleasant evening and, falling out or not, the knowledge that a friend with past attempts hadn't been seen in days was unsettling.

"I saw him Thursday afternoon." he said. "He hasn't gone to work since that evening." Which was unheard of. Reese scheduled his entire existence around work. If someone had listed Reese's priorities following the accident (his coping mechanism and routines that kept him going), work was the foremost and sports had been secondary.

He had gone to work entirely emotionally cut off avoiding friendships and undermining any potential connections, but he had always, always gone without fail. "Apparently his supervisor was out. They didn't realize he hadn't come in." Until this morning, when he had received the call that was half threat half ultimatum.

His voice remained calm -- not the eerie calm that Reese's had, but the calm of a man who ran a business, who worked splendidly under pressure. "We've looked everywhere we can think of."

He didn't voice the words, but they were perhaps implied in the look on Juilian's face, but more so by the fact that he lingered now on Bruce Vaughan's doorstep.

Bruce knew him better than they did now -- or had until a few weeks prior. He knew their hide-aways and favorite spots around the city. "And we can't find his journal." A statement that made perfect sense; Reese kept it tucked into a barely visible pocket behind his head board.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 18 2018, 08:25 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
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807 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Offline


Bruce expected the other man to stop and answer the question, to turn around to continue the conversation because he had asked a question. Because that required a response, and Julian Marshall was a gentleman who wouldn’t end on such a rude note. Because the mental manipulator had demonstrated interest in continuing the conversation, had engaged with him, and surely that attention had merit in this moment.

Thursday afternoon. That was three days ago, and two days after the bar fight. Far too long for silence from Reese, even if he had heeded Bruce’s advice about sobriety.

He mulled that over silently, his expression as much a mask as Julian’s. With the further revelation that he had missed work, and that none of his usual haunts had yielded hide nor hair of the man, Bruce glanced over his shoulder into the apartment.

“I have company.” He offered no further explanation, as Julian and he had no common bond beside his former friendship with the older man’s son. He owed no justification for his sex life. “But if you give me a couple of minutes, you can come in, and we can discuss this further.”

With that, he stepped back inside, shut the door, and returned to the bedroom. Without disclosing Julian’s identity or sharing secrets, he gave her a brief overview, warned her that this was an emergency, and that he would have company for a bit, and promised to bring her anything she wanted from the kitchen, or, if she chose to leave now, he would understand.

She requested a glass of wine, and a slice of cake; he provided both on the tray he used for breakfast in bed, kissed her lips, and retreated to the front door again. This time, he stepped to the side and bade Julian entrance. Only when the door was shut did he inquire, “Where did you look for the journal?”

Unlike Julian Marshall, Bruce knew all of Reese’s hiding spots.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 18 2018, 11:10 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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Julian nodded and offered a quick "Of course" as Bruce explained that he had a guest and that he would be back in a moment after the other person was comfortable (Julian assumed). As he stood by the door, he looked down at his holo and sent a message to Theo that he was checking with Bruce Vaughan -- who likewise hadn't seen him.

In the short time between Bruce walking away, tending to Marigold, and returning to the door, Julian had made two calls and sent five messages to the network of people who were looking high and low for Reese. He was hanging up with his wife when the door opened, and he said the words "I love you. We'll find him."

He slipped the phone away and walked inside, taking a seat and crossing his legs. For a moment, he was quiet as his eyes moved around. Both Wendy and Reese had described this room -- Wendy had talked about the dance trophies; Reese had talked about the couch. He ran his fingers over the arm of the sofa.

The silence in many ways was familiar, but in many others, it was entirely different. It was not a struggle for Julian to make connections; he was not quiet because he was building up the strength to speak. In fact, it was in many ways the opposite. Like an actor before a monologue, Julian expected the world to wait for him until he was ready -- it would wait. It always had.

When he finally spoke up, he said. "This is quite a nice place. Cozy." it was not meant, nor did it sound, anything but earnest. Julian himself was a man who respected people who lived in their means and below it. Esther was not of the same opinion. She stayed home far more than he did, so he had chosen one to suit her needs.

"I looked in his closets and nightstand. Bookshelves. Near his holo and radio." There was a long pause, but Julian still commanded the floor, even sitting the way that he was. It was as if he were holding his finger up as if to say it is not yet your turn, but his hands remained folded. "I'm surprised he hadn't contacted you. Thursday he was under the impression that something had changed between the two of you."

He didn't say it pointedly; merely that he was, indeed, surprised now that he was in Bruce's home that it was not Reese hidden away in his bedroom, drinking wine and eating cake in bed. Perhaps it was not without noting that Reese had left what amounted to a verbal love note on Bruce's answering machine on Thursday evening.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 24 2018, 09:12 PM
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Once Julian crossed the threshold, Bruce shut and locked the door reflexively; privacy had always been important, but over the past few weeks, guarding it had become his highest personal priority. Not merely for himself but for the revolving parade of guest stars who shared his bed for the night. They were willing to overlook the myriad associations of his name and face; the bare minimum he owed in return was ensuring that their visages didn’t grace the tabloids the next morning. He owed Marigold that.

And for his own sake, he didn’t need footage of himself and Reese’s Marshall’s father broadcast on ANNie over hijacked airwaves.

His apartment looked much the same as it always did, the stability of his home provided the strength and security required to make it through these trying times. Photos of his family – his parents, his siblings and their spouses and children, his girls, his now deceased grandparents - graced the mantle, their smiling faces reflecting happiness he no longer felt and love that even stress could not extinguish. His dancing trophy reflected the overhead light, the result of a recent polish when idle hands required activity. Impeccably neat, with a sprits of citrus in the air to compensate for how the apartment would smell of sex otherwise.

The mental manipulator settled in his favored armchair, waiting for Julian to answer his question about the diary. Instead the compliment about his living space followed, earned a single gracious nod in response, and silence settled over them once more.

Finally the older man recounted the places he had searched. The closets, the nightstand, the bookshelves, near his electronics. Logical places where a person might keep a diary when living alone with no fear of roommates, parents, or nosy siblings coming across it to read the contents and learn deeply-held secrets.

Of course, none of those were Reese’s storage location, which explained why Julian had failed to find it. Buried under layers of betrayal and frustration, Bruce was relieved. For a moment, he had thought that the diary was actually missing.

He held his tongue during Julian’s display of moneyed Typic entitlement, waiting out the older man rather than interrupt. However, he asserted his own boundaries the moment that he had finished. They might be in Haven, but this was his apartment, on the grounds of Shangri-La, his realm, his spectacle, his safe haven. He answered to nobody and nothing beyond the rule of law and his code of ethics. He was not a radical, but he shared one common sentiment with all of Evesdown this month – he had grown weary of Typics demanding more than they were entitled.

In truth, Reese might have contacted him; the mental manipulator wouldn’t know. Shortly after his press conference, his brother, Calvin, had fiddled with his phone at his behest, adding a few lines of code that ensured that messages were held in another mailbox that required separate access and which didn’t log missed calls from a particular number. It was more complicated than blocking Reese’s number but the complicated jumble of emotions ensured unorthodox solutions.

“Your son needs to quit drinking.” That was all that he would say on the matter of the bar fight, unwilling to boast of how he had undoubtedly saved the younger man’s life that night and unwilling to dwell further.

Hands folded in his lap, he leaned forward slightly and prodded the conversation back to its original topic. “You haven’t looked in the right place for his journal. He has hiding places.”

Deliberate hiding places, rather than storage for miscellaneous items.

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 25 2018, 06:33 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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Julian did not realize that he had done anything that might have been even the slightest bit offensive, and so he did not offer an apology for his entitled behavior. If it had been brought to light, he might have done so profusely. It had never been an intention of his to take up time that another man gave.

He believed that respect was not garnered in money, but earned through time spent.

A frown crossed his face when Bruce took a jab at Reese's drinking problem. It wasn't that he would deny it -- it was plain for the world to see. Reese drank from sun up until sun down most days; he wasn't sure he had seen his son sober in months before that last time that he had seen him.

"He was sober on Thursday when he told me that." Julian offered, misunderstanding the statement to mean Reese talks nonsense, lives in the past, and doesn't know where he is when he's drunk instead of he misinterpreted me saving his life as us being friends again.

Regardless, the topic of where the journal was the far more pressing matter. He leaned forward and produced his phone from his pocket in the same way that his son did when someone was mentioning something important. He tapped it a few times, holding it a bit away from his face and carefully setting a pair of spectacles onto the lower half of his nose to get to a screen where he could write a note.

"Could you describe where it would be?" he asked. He couldn't imagine where it would be, but he didn't intend to bother Bruce again if it was at all possible that he could avoid it. After all, the two of them weren't friends any longer, and he was quite sure that Bruce would have preferred to get back to his company.

However, his phone rang, and he frowned, holding up a finger and standing. "I'm sorry, just give me a moment." he offered, standing and moving away for a moment, though his voice only lowered so much. He sounded more like a general than a father, with troops everywhere in the city--because Reese had never pulled something like this before. Perhaps it should have given him hope, but instead it made it feel more surreal, like the first time he'd walked in to see Reese unconscious in the middle of the floor and his fingers had trembled as he had called the hospital. He finished the short talk with 'Good man,' and then returned to where he had been sitting and glanced back up at Bruce.

"I'm sorry about that. Theo is taking it poorly." And Bruce had met Tammy, Julian didn't have to explain why he needed to speak with someone other than his wife. "You were saying you thought you might know where he hides his diary?"

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jun 28 2018, 06:31 PM
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Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Bruce had indulged Reese’s drinking problem during the course of their friendship. Prior to that, those years ago when he spent several months at Shangri-La for therapy, they had attempted to dry him out. His in-house depression patients were not allowed mind-altering substances on the grounds, despite their legality when one left the premises. That interfered with the course of treatment; only prescribed medications, physical or psychological, were allowed.

Yet, no longer responsible for medication interactions or side effects, and invested in transforming Reese from a former patient and casual acquaintance he had serendipitously passed on the street one day into a close friend, Bruce had turned a blind eye. Except during play sessions, when he had drawn the line in the sand, a hard limit with clear consequences; if Reese had even a single beer, their session was canceled. The younger man had been intoxicated at holidays and drank far more than was strictly socially appropriate without losing all sense of balance or ability to think due to his tolerance when they had gone out to eat over the months of their association. And Bruce had never said a word.

Until Tuesday night. When, bloodied and beaten, a social pariah, Reese lay on the floor of the Horseshoe and Bruce uttered the last words they had exchanged. Advice more than an imperative – to stop drinking for his own sake, and to avoid all of the attendant activities: the trips to bars, picking fights with strangers, self-pity and avoiding the self-improvement and introspection found only within the ego’s recesses rather than at the bottom of a bottle. They hadn’t seen one another since, and Bruce had no plans of keeping up with the younger man, fully expecting those words to fall on deaf ears.

However…Reese had been sober on Thursday when meeting with his father? Two days after their encounter at the tavern. An unexpected development, one which last month Bruce would have considered a victory – the effectiveness of his baby steps philosophy.

Before he could remark on this, or answer the older man’s question regarding the journal’s location, Julian’s phone interrupted. He was apologetic, at least, but this left Bruce in the awkward position of entertaining a person engaged in a phone conversation that didn’t involve him in any way, shape, or form. Unintentionally, this left him alone with his thoughts, to turn over the implications and what, if anything, he owed to Reese as a result of their former emotional intimacy and in the face of this heavy betrayal.

Reese returned calls. The younger man had called his family even when he retreated behind his mask, walls up and emotions buried behind an impenetrable wall. Reese always took work seriously, keeping long hours as a form of self-punishment. It was unlike him to blow off work, and Bruce had to assume that this was a new job, otherwise surely Julian would have noticed his absence earlier.

Before the news broke, Reese had experienced an upswing with demonstrable improvement across his thoughts, emotional processing, and behaviors. He smiled. He looked forward to the time they spent together. He articulated his thoughts with, if not ease, then less difficult than in September. He suggested plans in addition to agreeing with whatever Bruce proposed. He sought fewer fights with their play sessions as a steady source of pain and private humiliation, and there had been no recent attempts.

He had been healthier. Not healthy, but healthier.

Three and a half weeks was a long time in exile. He could have backslid. And if he hadn’t, should Bruce reveal his cherished hiding place? If he had? Bruce had been his confidant. Not his therapist, but more trusted than a mere friend. Where did that fall on the ethical scale for disclosure?

Julian’s apology broke through his careful mental calculus. His lips, pursed together thoughtfully, smoothed over, and he lifted his head, seeking eye contact. The rest of the question filtered, phrased differently from earlier. Bruce had spent his entire career carefully parsing language, and this time, Julian asked whether he believed he might know where the journal was kept, rather than demanding the location.

Easy enough to answer.

“I think I do. I couldn’t make guarantees.” If Reese had taken it with him before disappearing, then the hiding spot would hold no treasure. However, he had to temper that with another point. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think he would want anyone to read it.”

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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jun 28 2018, 07:43 PM
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There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
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Julian did not not the intricacies of Bruce and Reese's relationship. He assumed more things than he truly knew. Many of the assumptions, though easy to make, were wrong at their basest level. First and foremost, that Reese and Bruce were sexually intimate with one another; that they didn't use the term 'boyfriend' because Reese wouldn't allow the title, but that they were that in everything but name.

So he took the statement in stride.

Bruce's boyfriend had betrayed him at the deepest level and yet, he remained steadfast in his loyalty. Julian could respect that. He nodded slowly as Bruce affirmed that he knew where the object might be. That was good. They might have somewhere to start -- they might have a day that he disappeared, at the very least.

The second part of Bruce's statement, however, was like a weight at the corners of his lips. It was not an expression of disgust, nor anger, nor insult. It possibly couldn't have even been described as pity, for the connotation was wrong. Julian felt like he was breaking news to someone who refused to comprehend the obvious.

Reese wouldn't care who read his journal. They were looking for a body to bury.

He didn't have the heart to say it; the same way that he kept reassuring his wife and Theo that Reese was just staying the night with an old friend, had lost his phone, or had hated the job. He lied to them to ease their minds until the inevitable was lying chill and limp in front of them -- mangled or bloody or looking so peaceful.

"You're right. He probably wouldn't." Julian agreed and shook his head. He didn't say the other half of what he wanted to say, but it was evident in his expression. He had run out of ideas. His eyes moved back to Bruce, and then he offered, "I'm sorry about how your friendship with him ended, but from a father's perspective, I want to thank you." His last few months had been happy.

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