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Characters  •   Esme Reed  •  Lucas Marchant  •  James Thistle  •  Thea Marchant  •  Arthur Bloomquist  •  Silver Luna Thistle  •  Landon Marchant  •  Cash Freeland  •  Director1/  •
Location  •  Middle of Nowhere (Off-Grid)
Date  •  2019-08-18
Summary  •  A group of teenagers who'd previously drank from Fran's bottle feel compelled to a location outside the city, where they meet up with her again.

As the full moon nears, the cravings get worse again. Each day after the first drink from the strange crystal bottle got a little easier, the withdrawal symptoms a little lighter. Gradually they may have even come to think they were getting over whatever lillness' had afflicted them. Things were almost back to normal.

Then the full moon comes.

The sensitivities and listlessness don't return, but the need for another drink does. The wild, frightening dreams return. And then the laughter. They can hear Queen Fran's laughter from time to time, there and then gone. Now, on the night of the full moon, they all feel a wordless compulsion. They hop in their cars, or in the cars of another in their select little club, and they head out of town without knowing where they are going or why, just that they need to.

They all arrive at the same place, an outcropping over the river North of town, near Topock. There is no building there, nothing to mark the place, but that's where they all end up.

One part disgruntled and one part panicked and one part, well, mystified, is Arthur, among a lot of other parts that aren't quite as pressing at that very moment. "Same as the beach," he murmurs to himself, about being lured toward strange water-adjacent locations. His steel-tipped shoes crunch gently on the ground as he approaches, falling into however he's supposed to do things with his usual easy agreeability.

Three members of the Marchant family, all in the same boat. What a quandry. It was Lucas and Thea at home, initially, and Lucas's hairbrained idea to ride in style to wherever this strange compulsion was guiding them. So.. er.. not in a boat, after all. In a limo. Ahem. Freakin' rich kids.

A quick stop was made, at Lucas's behest, to pick up Silver along the way. And James, it seems, since they were a package deal. Thea looks thrilled with that, for sure. Then, by perfect happenstance, they ran into Landon just after he'd snatched Esme at the tail end of her shift at Big Ben's, so.. maybe the limo was the best idea ever? Plenty of room for the six teens who all show up at the outcropping together, at least.

While Landon waited for Esme to close up shop at Big Bens for the night, he waited with some impatience. The compulsion and urge for just another taste of that wine was getting to him, giving him this nervous anxiety. Hell, he even helps her with the clean up process, to hurry her along. But for what? He's not even sure where he wants to go, just that he wants to go.

Dressed up for date night in a navy blazer thrown over a polo shirt and slacks ensemble, he'll escort her across the bridge. It just felt like the right direction to go. "Busy night?" He makes distracted small talk, his gaze lifting to view the moonlight in the sky." Boldly, he reaches out to take her hand as they walk along the way. It's as if he knows that something or someone was going to be driving by. And there it is, the Marchant limo. "Right in the nick of time..." He'll hold the door open for Esme to enter, before peering inside to see who the hell was along for the ride. "So... what's up?" He's not quite sure, but he'll settle in all the same.

Silver raised a brow at the limo and then Lucas when he arrived. Already dressed in denim with her camera bag over her shoulder. She even had her scooter helmet on and James and she were about to head out. "A limo?! You are something else, Lucas," She had said with a shake of her head. She had gone back into the house and returned with a twelve pack of Jolt to bring with. "You got that feeling too?" She glances worriedly at James. But he isn't likely to be able to wiggle out of his sister's insistence in going all together in the party car.

On the arrival of the limo, James is outside with Silver and eyeing her scooter skeptically, dressed down in ragged blue jeans and a plain black hoodie. "Yeah," the Thistle admits to Silver while his gaze lifts -- now with, if anything, even more skepticism -- towards the limousine that rolls up to pick them up. "Seriously," he mutters under his breath, more irritated than impressed by the opulence but grudgingly stepping forward to open the door, allowing Silver in before clambering in -- grudgingly -- after her. Once he settles into a seat, he realizes Thea's presence with an initial groan as though physically pained by her presence, though he quickly turns it into a scowl.

"Are you sure you don't want to take the scooter?" James whines to Silver. "I bet it would've been fun," he claims, eyes flicking towards Thea in indication of just how contrastingly un-fun the night's becoming. For all his ill temper, his foot pumps gently into the limo's floor, burgeoning excitement and nervous energy getting the better of him and causing his leg to move restlessly.

Cash Freeland is a bundle of nerves, weirdness and sensitivities on any other given day. He was glad that /this/ patch of issues was clearing up. But as the full moon took its place in the night sky, a normal night usually spent spinning records and re-stringing a guitar is abandoned. He does apologize to his listeners, assuming some still tune in, but doesn't give a reason why the Punk playlist is cut short. He grabs his keys and jacket and he's out the door. Thank goodness his curfew was lifted because he doesn't know where the hell he's going. He headed towards the Thistle home for a time but soon, he was headed north, that jet black Buick wide open and in the wind.

Of course, his GNX heralds his arrivals as good as royal trumpets. He roars up, parks and sits as he realizes he just showed up at the same place as half a dozen others. He's wearing ripped jean shorts, Converse, a white henley under blue flannel and black leather. His red hair is still streaked pink, though it has faded. He steps up to the gathered group. "Did we all...just get a feeling or something?" Beat. "I made a poster."

Thirst. Esme can't quench it, can't get it out of her head. She's been working more evenings than mornings on the weekends considering her attention span is better then and it keeps her mother from feeding her herbal tea or whatever else with notice of her oddities lately. All night, while she's working, she drinks water, she drinks soda to see if the carbonation burn quenches her, hell, she even takes a nip or two from the bottle in the back office of the cafe where her parents keep a little stash for themselves.

And then Landon is there waiting, helping and she acknowledges maybe it's a different kind of thirst she wants, he looks so nice dressed to go out, she's brought a darling edgy little dress to put on in the bathroom when she's finished with shift to make sure he asks her to prom and maybe kisses her tonight under the full moon, maybe that's the thirst she wants, her body has all those teenage hormonal urges, of course.

But no. Though she doesn't think about it much wittingly, she keeps hearing Fran and her thirst is for something else, the night everything changed a little and made her want a little more in life, somehow. They're out and away from the cafe to meet the others and she doesn't even bother to ask where they're going because the night feels like it's calling her and she's glad to have her hot little hand in company when it does. He's distracted, she's distracted, she slips into the limo ahead of him when the door is opened and grins a little, "It's the night, isn't it? One of those... I don't care where nights. It'll be fun." What will be fun? Doesn't matter, she doesn't dwell, she wants what she wants like everyone else and so she's riding along til they arrive at the spot.

Once they all arrive, the find themselves pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Cars are left to complete the last of the journey on foot, heading a few hundred yards out into dark desert wilderness, the smell of the river growing stronger as they go. Out of the darkness near the cliff's edge comes Fran, as if ascending steps just beyond the edge. Behind her come Nora and Bee, the two carrying a large steamer trunk between them, and Sly takes up the rear.

"Hello again, my lovely doves," greets Fran. "All of you together this time. So much easier. Come along. I have what you've been craving."

The two women carrying the trunk lower it to the dirt and sit beside each other atop it. Sly hangs back to one side, smoking a cigarette.

"But before we get to the fun bit, it has come to my attention that some of you have told others about our little party. One of you even put out a fucking flyer! That's my fault, of course. I never impressed upon you the need to keep our fun a secret. Silly me. So let's chat, shall we? Have any of you figured out what's going on?"

"Did you put meth in that drink? Because while I'm a budding rock star and all, this is a little too on-the-nose for me. I figured I'd wait at least a few years before ending up in drug-addled dissolution." Arthur calls it as he sees it.

Arthur adds, "Also, if this is about blackmailing our families, I'm already kinda doing that anyway with Grandpa because familial guilt is pretty lucrative, so it's already on lock."

Lucas is kinda addicted to that little kick. Also it makes a better cover story and if they're going to convince a couple of gals to sneak out of the house for a joyride. "Eeeeh the best for the best." Still when there's something that he (or really Landon) want he will burrow a hole through heavena nd hell to get to it won't he, and justify the consequences. when they arrive? Aaaah it's her! Arthur boasting about familial blackmail gets a double take and a very interested look. A sly grin warms, "Noooo shit? We'll have to talk later, man." Looking back to Fran he murmurs, "Addatives. Performance enhancers? Some sort of metabolic steroid or E is my guess."

Thea had, of course, suffered the ride here in silence once Silver and James had climbed aboard. She hadn't stooped to the level of returning the scathing looks shot her way, but she hadn't been overly sociable or welcoming, either. Well.. Silver got a tentative smile out of the girl, at least. Though dressed in a comfy sweater that hits mid-thigh and boasts a mock-turtle neckline, she keeps her arms wrapped around herself lightly on the walk, as if chilled. Fran's appearance has her perking right up, though. There's hunger in those soft green eyes, and they flicker all over the Queen, as if trying to spot a bottle clutched in a hand or hidden impossibly in folds of fabric. "Whatever it is, I think it's safe to say it's why we're all here," she chimes in, on Arthur's and Lucas's heels.

"I made the flyer." Cash admits with a little raise of the hand. "It was all fuzzy and I wanted help to remember but like, two kids in this town like me so..." He shrugs. "I'm...sorry? I guess? I don't know what's going on. We drank something. I've felt kinda shitty in the morning and sunglasses don't suit my face well and, uh..." He points to Lucas. "Ecstasy. Or LSD. Or truth serum. Or some MK-Ultra shit." He shifts a bit. "And I kinda want more so it's gonna be a drug. S'all I got."

Silver looks between James and Thea with a blink. Not quite getting the problem. So instead she offers him a Jolt and says, "Hey, now you can say you rode in a limo with the cool kids," In a soft voice. Lips turned into a lopsided smile.

When they arrive out comes the camera and of course she is clicking away. When she sees Cash though her faint smile kind of vanishes like Thea's did. "What are you doing here?!" She asks right before Fran showed up to distract. "Oh. It's you," The camera comes up and the flash goes off as she takes a picture of her and the other girls. Is anyone really surprised?

James Thistle grows increasingly excited as they near their inevitable destination, going from morose and sullen on initially clambering into the spacious limo to rushing out the door once it comes to a stop and hurrying across the dark wilderness in pursuit of his calling. He comes to an abrupt halt on encountering Fran, blinking curiously over at the others at the mention of a flyer and openly staring as he tries to riddle out who was responsible. His attention flicks contemplatively between Cash and the Marchant brothers in consideration, until the former finally confesses. Though he keeps silent, there's a smug, sly look on his face when their host asks if any of them have figured out just what has been going on.

Once they've reached their destination, Landon once more holds the door open for Esme. Limo rides are something that he's used to by now, but it might be a thrill for waitress! When he spots Fran's familiar face, his brow furrows. "That's her." Looking to Esme he asked, "Is that the one you saw the last time?"

Sure, while the newspaper didn't print an exacting report of what happened, they did make headlines about the drug-epidemic and how the stresses of teenage life drives students to embrace this particular vice.

Moving slowly forward to join the others, making sure that Esme is nearby at all times, he takes in the visages of the others. First, despite their aversion to sun and mornings, he didn't really think much of the fact that Thea had drank the wine. But seeing who else had also done so, it's a curious collection of teenagers. "You lied to us. Said it was wine, when it obviously wasn't. So are you gonna tell us what it actually was?"

Esme isn't overly suspicious as a natural trait, unlike the twins in her company and some of the others that like to piece things out, so she's conflicted when it turns to a guessing game as to what it is they're figuring. Does she feel a little rationally better that people are actually questioning what she won't aloud or what she sometimes wonders about? Yes, she does, there's a security in it and company, her hand kept right near Landon's with finger hooking through a couple of his. But initially, she's just kind of irrationally delighted to see Fran again and wonder what they're going to play now for games, to know she can maybe ask for another drink.

Besides, there was a limo, Esme likes the idea of arriving in a limo and wishes they didn't have to get out to move on foot, but they'll go back in it, she likes that too. She wishes Lana were here, because she nods earnestly to Landon's question before reigning herself in a little bit visibly with that beat of enthusiasm to notice the collective gathered, which... admittedly, this is odd, them all gathered here after a joy ride, isn't it? Her rose-flushed and done up lips to match attire and the evening of free reign with her pretty dress twist, then she finally wonders with a look at the trunk, "Is this another game?" Okay, now she at least sounds a little confused, as the moment calls for, but she seems interested to see what's in the trunk and secretly hopes for another crystal bottle to pop out.

Fran laughs thay musical laugh of hers, fuzzling Art's hair as she passes. The guesses come rolling in, and then Landon accuses her of lying. She places a ring-laden hand over her heart and gives him a wounded look.

"What?! The strange woman you never met before that offered you a drink of something mysterious that YOU DRANK might have LIED to you?!"

Nora giggles at this, but Bee gently hushes her. A loud, sudden *thump* comes from the trunk beneath them. Fran glances back over her shoulder briefly, and Nora slams her boot heel against the trunk to make it be quiet.

"Where were we?" asks Fran. "Oh! Right. The secret. No drug would make you all feel the need to come all the way out here to this specific spot. That's just silly. No, it wasn't a drug. Tonight you get to make a choice. How much do you really want to know? I can give you what you came for..." And out of her coat comes the crystal bottle. "And you can feel right as rain again and be on your way. Or, you can ask a question you might not like the answer to. Each of you gets to choose. Drink and be happy, or find out what's in the trunk?"

Arthur sighs at the dilemma. "That's a terrible choice, we've got to pick the sensible one or we've got to pick the blatantly self-destructive one. What's someone with my total lack of giving a shit going to do?" He raises both hands, palm up. "On the left, the choice I'd make if I was happy with my existence. On the right, the choice I'd make if I was foolish enough to jeopardise my carefully-plotted life path. Which to choose, which to choose?" He looks over at the others, as if imploring them to make the choice for him.

Cash startled when the thump came from the trunk and his big blue eyes are glued to it now. He did snort when Fran called out Landon. "...thought I was the gullible one..." He was paying attention though and mutters, "What he said..." with a nod to Arthur. He adds, "It's tempting, yes. It was nice to feel nice for a bit. Look a person in the eye...not chained down under a pile of mental bullshit..." He sighs. "But I have plans and I c-can't work with my dad and save money being /more/ sensitive to the sun. Pass. Can I go now?"

"I don't know," James sighs out in a feigned tone. "What could possibly make me hate going out in the sun, feel so much more alive at night, call me out to these strange places, and make me have these crazy dreams and cravings?" he wonders aloud, as though the answer were fairly straightforward. The presentation of the trunk, however, and more specifically the noises that come from what can only be within it, melt away his smug air and rewrite his features with the more situationally appropriate fear.

Whereas, the crystal bottle, on the other hand, elicits a longing look of the sort that Thea may have been accustomed to generating, had he not taken up the glaring and scowling. "I mean, uh..." he trails off, on the back foot now as his gaze flicks warily again to the trunk and he starts to get cold feet. "They say that ignorance is bliss, right?" he figures, pausing to lick his lips despite his obvious discomfort.

Thea's curiosity has been a defining trait pretty much throughout her young life. Why should tonight be any different? Like Cash, she locks eyes on the trunk at the unsettling sound that emanates from it, though her focus soon enough returns to Fran, particularly as that longed-for bottle comes out into view. From the folds of her coat! Hah, she was right! Worrying at the curve of her lower lip with her teeth, she glances toward the trunk again, but... bottle. Damn it.

"We have to choose? We can't have a taste, and know what's in the trunk?" Come on, someone was bound to ask.

Silver moves her camera to the girls standing by the truck as it thumps. The flash goes again and then she lowers the camera to look at James. There is a hard and worried look in her eyes and she licks her lips. Then her lips move to take in the faces of the others. And off goes the flash again a few seconds later as she backed up to take a shot of the whole group...minus her of course.

That done she circles back in and over to stand by her brother. Reaching out to give his hand a reassuring squeeze. "The trunk holds the truth?" Silver finally asks, as the camera is fully lowered to hand about her neck. She glances at Lucas and then Landon and nibbles on her lower lip thoughtfully. Her brow furrows as she glances from bottle to trunk and back.

Lucas sighs from deep in his chest "Noooo, Cash, you're the one that reacts before he thinks." His head lolls to the side to look at him. He falls back on his heel and looks to Landon. There's a LONG coversation there between 'fuck it, it's not a big deal' and 'fuck all this'. Yet in truth if it meant nothing to them none of them would be here. "Maybe the real question is do we want what we want and hang the cost on that? Arthur's right. What's truth short of leverage? But were any of us damaged? Not really. I mean the only truth we know is that if it didn't mean something? Well we wouldn't be sitting here." And with that he looks, naturally, to Landon.

ROLL: Esme rolls 1d2 for: [1]: x1 -- Match Value: 0 (Raw: 1 -- d2)

There's a sharp narrowing of his eyes on Fran, but when attention is suddenly drawn to this mysterious trunk, Landon has to stop and consider what the woman and the others actually wants them to decide. What's in the bottle is tempting of course, the need for it is what drew them here to begin with, though the trunk itself is something new. However, he's not even sure if he has a question that he'd like answered.

While his hold doesn't loosen on Esme's hand, he confers quietly with his twin. Look, they do actually need to verbally discuss things some times, even if they can tell what the other wants to say with a mere look.

"What if we all walk away?" He then asks. "No asking question. No drinking from the bottle?" Look, if Thea wants it all, Landon is curious about what if they all chose none of the above.

Lucas arches an eyebrow to the trunk and Fran's hand. Dammit this time he's going to remember her name (Or so he thinks). Quietly he murmurs to Landon, both eyebrows up, "Yeaaaaaah but are we?" He watches Landon for a long time and looks back to ehr, "Which did you choose?" Sure he's asking her. Look, all 18 year olds think they are super fucking clever.

"Ooo! A daring girl," Fran says of Thea. Cash gets a raised 'brow and narrowed gaze. She's thoughtful for a moment. "Ask your sister," she says at last. "If your sister is staying and playing, you can tuck your tail and run along. Or you can try to. And yes, Mr. Marchant, that goes for all of you. You can try walking away. See how far you get."

She looks across the group again, James getting a slow smile with too many perfect, white teeth. "Go on, dear boy," she encourages him. "You're a clever, plucky duck, aren't you?"

Then to Lucas. "You all came 'cos you want more, and I'm a giver. The question is do you want to know now what's happening, or would you rather wait until next time, when it's too late, to find out?" She dangles the bottle. "Drinks are on me, kids."

Esme may be trusting to a fault given she doesn't think the way the colder sides of human nature tend to think due to her own nature and upbringing, but she's not exactly a moron. She was looking at the trunk when it thumped from the inside while wondering if they were going to play a game, and it looks like they're, indeed, getting that game. But she's not sure if it's the game she wants and her fingers curl a little tighter on Landon's with response while staring at the trunk and the others in Fran's company. Her eyes cut to Thea, then, and after Landon's quiet conferring with Lucas, she looks up at him too.

Then she looks at Fran and the bottle and whatever wariness was on her starts to wane as her mouth begins to feel inexplicably dry and needy and... well hell. She wants what she wants suddenly, that damned bottle and what's in it, and looks exactly that way with a hint of yearning instead of wariness. But at the end of the day, this is still Esme and she's concerned about something //moving// in the trunk, not so much for herself, but for whoever or whatever's in the trunk! After closing her eyes tight, she focuses on the trunk again when her eyes re-open, her brows knit.

Silver eyes narrow a little and her lips narrow. She looks rather frustrated and licks her lips. But the subtle threat makes those green eyes gleam. Does she stand a little closer to James while shooting Lucas and Landon a worried look? Yeah she does, she isn't subtle sometimes. Silver swallows and takes a step forward and says, "I want to know. -And- have a drink." Her tone is firm and she has squared her shoulders. That step just a little bit in front of her brother. There's only a few months difference, but blood is blood. And if any Thistle is gonna go first it'll be here tonight.

"I sing about all sorts of things," Arthur muses, his expression perfectly pleasant, "And some of my songs are about cutting through the bullshit to find the truth. I don't know if I believe any of it, but I'd be pretty pathetic if I didn't ask for the truth when someone's actually offering it to me."

"Drinks," James echoes Fran thoughtfully, emphasizing the plurality as his eyes flick with horror back to the now-quiet trunk. He takes a half-step back, but as his attention starts to revert onto the crystal bottle Fran puts on display, dangling out for their view, he comes to a quick halt. He gives Silver's hand an encouraging squeeze, and though his eyes are glaring when they briefly flick over to Thea, recounting her suggestion of taking both paths, his hard features soften and melt.

"Yeah," James echoes quietly in evident agreement with his ex-crush and his sister. "I want both," he decides, frowning for a second and then licking his lips as he looks between the bottle and the trunk. "But I'm pretty sure I already know what's in the trunk," and then that horrified, and excited, and horrified on account of being excited, look comes right back.

Cash starts to shake his head. "No. No. This is too much. I-I-I don't wanna know. I don't wanna know anything! I'm going...no more flyers. I won't say a word. I'm going home." He looks to Esme, trying to will his cousin to follow as he turns to make his attempt to walk away.

Fran tosses the bottle to Sly, who catches it and opens it, then one by one goes to each of the kids and offers them a sip.

ROLL: Cash rolls spirit-1 for: [1]: x2 (Pair) [6]: x1 -- Match Value: 1 (Raw: 1 1 6 -- d6)

James's voice draws Thea's gaze over to him, as it is wont to do. Unlike most other instances, however, it doesn't simply skitter away after the briefest of glances. Rather, as she spots the softening in his eyes, she allows her focus to linger there; it's as if she's trying to memorize the sight, the expression he wears, as it's so very much in contrast to the sorts of looks she's grown accustomed to receiving. Then Cash is saying he plans on leaving without opting for either choice, and her brow furrows with concern as her attention is dragged away from the Thistle lad. "I.. I think you have to pick one," she points out quietly. As for her, she reaches for the bottle when Sly brings it 'round. No hesitation, there. Does it complicate life? Hell yes. Does she care all that much, just now? Nah, the thirst does a fine job of ensuring she doesn't.

Landon's lips purse knowing full well that his brother wants another taste. He's even giving Lucas this /look/ before giving the bottle being offered a careful glance as it draws near. Whatever's in the box doesn't seem to hold his interest. He knows that they don't need the contents of that bottle to do what they do best, no matter how good it makes them feel. But there were drawbacks. //Drawbacks, Lucas!//

Having an idea of what his brother has planned, he turns to Esme now to observe the look on her face, "I think we're going for it." He doesn't sound happy about it. "I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want."

Arthur, once the option's been given to get both choices, drinks when the bottle comes 'round to him. He doesn't hesitate; his self-assurance is quiet but unshakable.

Lucas listens and it's the look LAndon gives him. When in history has Lucas Marchant not got what he wanted? Rarely. Well, don't bring up Prom. He's avoiding talking about that. His brother though is giving him that slightl non-plussed look. A hand goes out to Landon and both eyebrows go up, fingers resting to sternum, "Look I made the call last time. We don't have to if you don't want to. If... I'm hearing correct the damage is..." He watches Silver go over there and sighs, "Done."

Esme looks at Landon, looks at the bottle, looks at the trunk (surely there's not a PERSON in there, that'd be insane, wouldn't it?). Then she looks at Cash wanting to leave and Fran's suggesting before pulling in a breath and looking at her cousin, "If Cash doesn't want to drink, I'll take his drink too if needbe." Then with her hand still laced through Landon's because boys and bottles apparently make her stupid, no matter how she's bartering for her cousin's well-being through the craving at the same time with care for his mental state and anxiety, she nods some to Cash with that Freeland stubborn that calls that-that, "Cash can go, right?"

Silver takes the bottle and looks Sly dead in the eyes as she takes a brief gulp. Handing it back and watching James take his drink. There's a shiver that runs through her and for a second she closes her eyes. When they open again she turns to watch Cash walk off, lips pulling into a little smirk that is triumphant for some reason.

Silver meets Lucas' eyes and that smirk spreads into a toothy grin. Shoulders rising in an almost playful little shrug. "Girls just wanna have fun," She quips before giggling and twirling about in a little pirhouette.

Fran looks disappointed at Esme and Cash, but makes a quick shooing gesture. "Fine," she allows. "Your cousin can go. You stay." As decisions are made and most of them choose to drink, she paces just a bit. "Mr. Thistle, you had a theory you were starting to share. Please, continue."

Cash pauses to look back and clearly, he was expecting...others to be behind him. He turns in time to see people hitting the bottle and not following his lead. "Since when am I the guy who--who does something that makes fucking sense?!" He bites his lip as he looks at the bottle again. There is longing. There is want. But stubbornness wins out and Cash is out of this mess.

James takes his drink from the bottle when Silver passes it his way, gaze lingering briefly on Thea until he pulls away and hardens his expression again. He tilts the crystalline container to his lips and takes a quick swig, then leans over to pass it along to the next victim -- Thea -- while turning to shoot a bland look back over to Cash. He's startled on being drawn to attention by Fran, nearly jumping from his skin at his name, and pauses for a second to look around himself as if to verify that there isn't any other 'Mr. Thistle' around.

He wasn't exactly prepared for the prospect of sharing with the class, and his reluctance to share his theory is palpable as he glances about, as if searching for an escape from Fran's request. "Well, uh..." he stalls, clearing his throat and continuing to survey the others, features occasionally hardening as though challenging them to say something when he finally speaks up, with a blunt: "You're vampires." He tries to appear confident, but every now and then the cracks and self-doubt start to peek back through. Obviously, that proposition is crazy. But it all adds up, doesn't it?

Not only is it Lucas who wants another dip into the bottle, but Esme as well. Landon's not leaving either of them here despite his bout of caution. The longer that he looks at the bottle, the more that he feels like he wants whats in it.

Then James speaks up with his own theory on things, which makes Landon give Lucas this curious look. //Vampires?// Some of it did make sense, the sensitivity to sunlight etc etc. But... vampires?

Odd, the way pieces fall into place and make even the outrageous, the most unimaginable or ludicrous, seem to make perfect sense. Thea's gaze is on James again, her eyes widening just faintly as he so succinctly slides those last puzzle tidbits into proper alignment, and the picture becomes clear. Unfortunately, for her, it was just after she'd taken her swallow from the bottle -- too late to change her mind about quaffing whatever's inside, and just shy of the point where the liquid starts to sing through her body and wash away the horror the pronouncement elicits. It only chills her for a few awful seconds, though, before the heat, the rush, begins to bloom. "Huh," is all she says, before her lips curve to a giddy little half-grin, and she giggles. Yep, giggles. "That mean we're gonna be, too?"

James gives his hypothesis, and the 'vampires' burst into laughter.

"Oi! Did you hear?" asks Fran. "The boy thinks we're vampires!" She makes fangs with her fingers, wiggling them first at Nora and Bee, and then at the gathered group. More laughter ensues.

Fran collects herself, stepping closer as Sly finishes the rounds and brings the bottle back. "That would be some trick, yeah? Vampires? So if you've been drinking vampire blood, maybe you're becoming one yourself? I mean, hypothetically speaking. That sound fun?" She looks to the others. "Does it? Being vampires, living forever, all that? What if it were true? Let's hear it."

"What's the catch?" Arthur asks simply. "Who doesn't want to live forever? But that's something people have wanted since forever, and you're just giving that away?" He accepts that vampires might be real without argument, but he is a singer in a goth band.

Esme watches Cash go off while the others have their go at the bottle and it might not just be greed and a general trust that they'll be fine just like they were last time, save for some complications that has her watching him go. It was fun, right? But... if something is amiss, at least she's gotten him out of there, and if not, well, at least he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do.

There's a beat of pause, though, when she gets the bottle to take her sip, staring at James, then Fran's reaction before taking the second small promised sip on Cash's behalf, equating to a good gulp of the stuff between the two pulls, then she passes it on to whoever is next with a dubious expression. Lips stained, she runs tongue over them with the mysterious drink and lipstick as if she's trying to suss something out there for just a beat of time, then... the bottle and its contents start to take a bit of whatever's remaining when it comes to flares of rationale or gut feelings. In fact, she sounds a bit dazey while looking up at the moon and deciding, "I'd miss sunshine basking. But the moon is pretty too." Then she looks at Landon with a rush of exhale, "Makes you glow a little. Maybe it's just you, though."

Then she apparently thinks of something, remembers with the drink starting to rush through her what the dreams felt like, "Would we feel like the dreams?" It's hard to tell how seriously she's taking it because VAMPIRES? Crystal healing and vivid dream interpretations and all that hippie stuff is one thing, but...

Silver has gone quiet as she watches and listens. Eyes skipping from James and then back to Fran. Her eyebrows have furrowed slighty and she finds herself biting her lower lip. "Vampires?" She says softly and wraps her arms around herself. The shiver that runs through this time makes her smile faintly again. "I...live forever? But don't vampires kill their victims?" That makes her shift and make a face.

With everyone taking their taste, Landon eventually gets his own. At first his gaze flickers over to Esme who had just taken her sip before him, before he turns, meeting Lucas' gaze with his own. The bottle lifted, he drinks it in slowly at first, even if that urge for more intensifies. Breathing in a quick breath, wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he hands the bottle over to Lucas now.

The world did seem brighter now and he felt lighter. That tension that he was holding, that made the muscles in his body tighten and ache loosened. But does one really believe in vampires? Once the bottle is passed, he stares out at Esme for a long moment, studying her features in the moonlight. She was right, their skin looked vibrant, beautiful, in a sense. Though to this question about what if this vampirism were true, this brings out a furrow of his brow, "If vampires were true, then we'd be powerful and unstoppable creatures." He then murmurs, "But then we'd also be damned, wouldn't we? I mean, if there were such a thing..."

Lucas takes the bottle from Landon when passed around and comes to some resignation with Landon on the issue, "Well if damage is done I'm sure as shit not one to mope around and feel bad about it." Looking to Esme he dimples a wry grin, "He does that sometimes when he thinks too hard." He's considering the question and says "We're assuming live forever, death, yadda yadda but, I mean, if you're going to sleep 8 hours do you really care which 8? In exchange for feeling like you can take on the damn world and have the ability to do so? It's 50/50 in the middle." Slinging his am around Landon's shoulders he lifts the bottle tipping it back and says with a rakish grin, "If you're not going to die who cares about being damned?"

For somebody who spends so much of his time talking to ghosts -- or his own imagination -- vampires aren't nearly so much of a leap. James' face heats with embarrassment at the initial laughter, but with his confidence buoyed by the mouthful of liquid from that crystal bottle, he firms up in his resolution.

"I guess I'd have to know all of the details. The drawbacks. Make an informed decision," James decides on considering Fran's hypothetical, though there's an obvious look of longing on his face -- who wouldn't be tempted? "If I didn't do my due diligence before jumping in, I guess I'd be kind of an idiot," the teen muses, glancing again at the crystal bottle. Then the color starts to drain from his face. Yeah, he's an idiot. He turns a brief, but fierce, glance onto Thea -- as if, somehow, some way, this were all her fault.

"Well, that," says Fran to Arthur, pointing at Silver. "What she just said. Life feeds on life, dearie. Living forever ain't free. But you already feel it, somewhere deep inside, yeah?" She grins at Esme, nodding a little. "The real hunger. The need to hunt. To feed, like in your dreams."

She glances back over her shoulder and snaps her fingers. "Girls? Let our plaything out."

Nora and Bee get up and set about unlocking the trunk, then open it. Out stumbles Brenda Lang, missing for four days, looking shaken and dishevelled, and covered in shallow little cuts all over. They can instantly smell it, taste it. Blood. Fresh, human blood. Nothing has ever made them so instantly hungry in their lives.

"P-please," she whines. "Just let me go." Thea recognizes her as Theodore's secretary. Knows her, even.

Naturally, Thea is somewhat taken aback. Perhaps strangely, though, it seems more a result of James's accusatory look than the recognition of the woman who'd been trapped in that trunk. "Brenda?" she asks, drawing in a breath that catches momentarily in her throat, then turns to a greedy gulp of air. Or, rather, the coppery bite of blood she scents on it. Her eyes narrow sharply on the poor secretary, fingers curling to fists at her sides. How is it that her mouth is watering, while simultaenously feeling dry as the desert? "What's.." Her eyes shoot to Landon and Lucas. "What's happening?"

"A waking dream," breathes Arthur. In every one of his incarnations, there's always been something... essentially... human? That's been missing, somehow. Morality, self-preservation, empathy... And that's the case now. He's bought right in to this new paradigm, the world flipped upside-down from reality into whatever this is! His pale eyes gleam, showing more interest in the unpleasantness to come than probably anything in his short, shallow life.

Landon may be the observant one, but Lucas is the one with the explanation for everything, even if it's bullshit-- and in the case that it's bullshit, it's bullshit she generally likes to hear, so as soon as Brenda pops out of that box with Fran's affirmation about hunger and dreams, she jumps and looks at the twins just like Thea. Then she starts to... well, it's not normal quite, what she does, though she is trying to process the oddity of it. She laughs a little bit and it's accidentally dark with a bit of satisfaction, like something has popped up to satisfy another part of her fueled from the back burner with the sips from the bottle and mere mention of hunting, hungry dreams.

But then... she does sound a little confused as she asks aloud of Lucas and leans in against Landon with looks at the others to make sure they're seeing what she's seeing, "... that's... that's a real lady, right?" The whine seems to throw her, though, in her altered state, "Why is she so afraid?" She knows. She doesn't know. But all the same, Esme wets her lips.

Silver bites her lower lip hard and makes a noose in her throat. Wide-eyed she stares at Brenda and her hand touches the camera, but she doesn't lift it. Horror and hunger war on her face. Her lips part slightly but she's gritting her teeth. That hunger. It makes her take a shuddering breath. "This is wrong..." She barely whispers. And yet the need has her leaning towards Brenda. "But feels right."

Lucas was always the carefree one of the pair, even though Landon knows better about his brother. The idea of living forever and being blessed with eternal youth isn't an unpleasant thought at all. But surely, that's not what's going to happen. That's impossible, first of all. Despite how the liquid in that container makes him feel as it courses through his veins.

Leaning against his brother, who in turn is leaning against him, their eyes are now drawn to the trunk once more. However, before it's even opened, his senses felt further enhanced and for whatever reason, he could smell the deliciousness within.

It was Brenda, Theodore's lady Friday or whatever. Just as Thea looks to the both of them, Landon catches her gaze before shooting one over at Lucas. Hearing Esme's laughter and noting her confusion, he murmurs to her, feeling her delicate weight pressed against him, "That's... Brenda. Our cousin's assistant." He knew that she'd been missing for some time and while he felt badly enough about it, it wasn't his problem to solve. Now she was here. There was a group of teenagers standing around the woman, surrounding her now. All of them looking confused and somewhat hungry. "That's not fear," He tries to sound confidant, "That's elation." Or maybe that's what he's hoping it to be in his own mind.

The revelation of Brenda, skin riddled with rends and cuts that keep her bloody, emerging from the trunk elicits a strange cocktail of disparate emotions that play out in a bizarre rictus on James' face. Triumph flickers over his features in the satiation of a compulsive need to be right, followed by a spasm of horrified revulsion. Guilt draws his gaze briefly to the ground, but it inevitably rivets right back onto poor Brenda as excitement settles in and builds into a lust. Concern worries his forehead, but that brief moment of sympathy, of a desire to help the captive secretary -- or whatever Theodore calls his eyecandy -- flickers and dies with the emergence of hunger. He licks his lips. "Would we have to..." he trails off, grimacing before the words come free and choking them down. After a gulping swallow, he finishes the thought, albeit with obvious strain. "Kill her?"

"You're scared and confused, I know," says Fran, stalking slowly towards Brenda as the woman crawls on hands and knees away from the trunk. "We'll show you the way, lovely doves. Soon, you'll think nothing of it."

She reaches out and grabs the woman by the hair, tugging her head up and back, throat exposed. Fran's features shift, sharpening and twisting into something far more feral. Monstrous. Her fangs are now quite real, and her eyes glow golden in the moonlight. Without warning, she lurches down and tears into that exposed neck, the woman making a short-lived scream that becomes a gurgle. In a flash Nora, Bee and Sly, all similarly transformed into their bestial nature descend upon the woman, grabbing whatever bodypart is handy and feasting. They move with inhuman speed and strength, and in a matter of seconds they've pulled their kill apart in a bloody mess. Fran looks back at the kids, blood all over her pale face, wicked teeth crimson in the moonlight.

Their hunger is intense, but that face, that monstrous vissage overwhelms them and they find themselves running. Everything becomes a blur of adrenaline and fear. There's laughter, snarling, tearing and other sounds they'll never forget, and the trip home is lost in a haze. They remember very little else. They wake up in the morning much as they did after the first time, but this time it's worse. And this time instead of a party, they have vague snippets of the vampires feasting on Brenda. They want it to be adream, but deep down they know it isn't.

ROLL: Silver rolls spirit-1 for: [2]: x1 [5]: x1 [6]: x1 -- Match Value: 0 (Raw: 6 2 5 -- d6)

Silver's hands fumble at the camera as Fran begins to transform. But something makes her drop it. Some sense of self-preservation has her grabbing at James' and running. Pushing or pulling him along, or maybe vice-versa along the way, as she runs for all she is worth. No scream emerges from her, just terrified soft whimpers as she keeps going. The only thing that pierces the fear is the need to keep her brother safe. With the Marchant twins as a secondary concern, making her pause to look over her shoulder and make sure they're not left behind.

Lucas is frozen in place. Lucas is a LOT of things, and yes at-fault might be on occasion one of them but that's not important right now. Landon, Thea, and Esme are looking to him for an answer; some justification on the situation. He's trying not to be horrified as how very not-upset part of his brain is right now. Think think think.

Lucas' eyes look to Esme as scared as he is by the crash of morality on this. He answers truthfully, "The world's had a lot of errors in it and choices that brought everyone, and her to now." He's still, watching, eyes hardening, and jaw sitting resolute, "It's the price we paid for last month." And then their faces change and he says quietly, and steadily to hide teh fear in his voice, two word with much immediace, "Landon.... go now." And the rest? He may never have spin to justify what just happened but he will damn well try.

Staring transfixed by the gruesome sight in front of him, simultaneously disgusted, horrified, and yet drawn to the bloodbath that unfolds in front of him, it takes Silver's yanking on James' hand for the Thistle to snap out of it, and then he's bolting after her. It's not a clean escape. He trips, he stumbles, he runs into Silver and Thea, bumping into them as he flees, and he comes away with scrapes, scratches, and bruises, but eventually he makes it back, panting and retching.

Thea's lizard brain kicks into high gear, and she's hot on the others' heels as they all tear out of there for the relative safety of.. well. Anywhere not here. The twins are spared glances, for there's still enough slivers of rationality within her mind to inspire concern for her family. Too, oddly enough, her terrified gaze seeks out James; her hands even reaching as if to try to steady him when he looks to lose his footing momentarily. It's not until they're well out of harm's reach (one should hope) that she allows herself to breathe. And, because her emotions are wild and hot under the influence of what they all drank -- again -- tonight, she breaks down into tears.

Fuck you, she's a girl.

Esme could have let Lucas rationalize it, maybe, fed the urges at the core, maybe, relished in it all with Landon, maybe, as she imagines kissing him with a bloody mouth there for a hazy and fantasizing moment, but then... everything changes. Esme is secretly vain and likes things pretty, so somewhere in her altered way, she's just as horrified that vampirism or whatever this is, it isn't a fantastically glamorous and gorgeous intensity like books and movies sometimes are. Irrational. But fear is paramount because no matter what they're drinking, they're still pretty damn human and the horrorshow that progresses has her staring with shock and terror alike with a wicked hunger and good time buzzkill.

Maybe one of the boys grabbed her, maybe her feet took over with survival instinct, but eventually... she's sheer and mindless flee to the point where someone literally has to stop her from going off into the middle of nowhere in a panic given where they are this night.

As much as he hungered, the smell of Brenda's blood intoxicating, things turned from entrancing to terrifying when Landon catches sight of the faces of these 'strangers' turn bestial right before their eyes. At first he blinks, not quiet certain about what he's witnessing, even though he, too, had the hunger for... Brenda? Her blood? It was incredibly confusing.

Then, he watches as those.. monsters descended upon Theodore's assistant after tearing into her throat. Those ravenous beasts. With the blood spilling, he's almost standing there transfixed, but this terror quickly rises within him. There's a single nod given to Lucas' whisper. He's also making sure that his brother was well on his way to wherever the hell safety was. A quick hand snatches at Esme's wrist as he drags her along. He doesn't call out for her, not needing to draw any attention to their departing selves even if they all have to pile back into that limo.