Log:Freeland to Freeland
Cash has not been himself. He's had it hard since last summer. An extended, tiered grounding that has just ended with the release of his curfew. Breakups. Makeups. And a lot more sleeping in paired with longer nights. But worst of all?
He is not talking to Ashley.
It doesn't seem purposeful and knowing Cash, it probably isn't. He doesn't set out to hurt or slight, even if he manages to do it anyway...and in grand fashion. Saturday night was supposed to be punk night. It was going well until he apologized for the shortened airtime and off the boy went into the night. He didn't return until Monday. Evening. After a brief dustup with the parentals, he squeaks by without punishment /only/ because he called twice and he got that part in the musical. And Stacey has been very forgiving since she has something new to brag about. What is surprising is Cash's next stop. Ashley's room. He knocks and then opens the door slowly, shielding his eyes. There was a time he didn't knock AND a time where he'd knock and still burst in. Cash learns some (most) things the hard way.
"Nope" Ashley deadpans, "I'm furious." At least she doesn't sound furious...cold maybe...but not furious. "Come on in. I wanted to talk to you." She was sitting at her desk writing in her journal when Cash arrived, and she turns slowly on the rotating chair to watch him enter. Her room has a pink theme; decorated with posters of pop artists and littered with stuffed animals. Ashley is in her sleepwear; fluffy bunny slippers, pyjama trousers, 'Madonna' t-shirt. Arms crossed. Lips pouting. Green face cream covering her skin.
"Where have you been?" An attempt at asking lightly though there may be some simmer in her voice.
Cash is...tan. As tan as he can get, at least, and with the tan come the freckles, spread across a tired but pleasant expression. He's wearing what he left in, minus some layers. Ripped jean shorts, blue flannel shirt and new neon green Converse. His leather jacket is folded in his arms. He smells like the beach and he comes bearing a gift. A little wooden bridge...filled with Ghirardelli chocolates. "A peace offering?" He sits on her bed, kicks off his shoes and gets comfy. "Surfing. In San Francisco. With Hector. I'm not terrible at it, you know?" He pauses a moment and tucks some of his long, red and faded pink streaked hair behind his ear. Those curls are a frizzy mess. "How do you stand this room? So...pink. So much...stuff. Eyes." Ashley may be the only person he can look in the eyes for longer than a few moments. So he does so when he says, "I am not on drugs. The truth...might be worse. But, uh...you want nice news or freaky news first?"
Ashley eyes off the chocolates. She's not falling for that bribe, no sir...okay. They are plucked from his hand and immediately started on. She even offers him one. "You went off with Hector? Didn't feel the need to tell anyone after all the trouble you got in last time? Didn't even think that your sister would be worried you've disappeared for the summer again?" At least she can eat with the mask on. "This room is the height of fashion. I can stand it because I am fashionable." It's obvious to her.
"The truth is worse than drugs? Ah, Hector talked to you about the conversation we had." Ashley sighs. She wants to ask him about that strange flyer he put up but it seems Cash has something on his mind. "Freaky then nice to make up for it." An eyebrow arches at the thought of what freaky news may mean. "You're not really my brother?"
"Uh. I'm pretty sure I'm your brother. But only because Mom has that one giant redhaired uncle." Cash gives a cheeky sort of smile. "So...long story short, rumors about a beach party with spiked wine are true..ish. It wasn't wine. It was...something else. And...I was there for that. And I was compelled to drive north of town Saturday night and a whole fuckton of kids we know drank more of that shit because we've all been craving it since we hit it the first time. But I didn't drink any this time. Esme did." Cousin Esme. Cash deflates. "And James Thistle thinks the people who partied are vampires." Beat. "And it makes sense."
"So, there was this liquid that gave you withdrawal symptoms but it was //not// drugs." Ashley sighs. "Denial is what an addict does, Cash. You have to admit you have a problem first. Wait, Esme is a drug addict now too?" That is not good. "She's such a sweet girl...though I doubt her parents would care too much if she doing drugs." Though then there is the 'V' word. And the girl in the green face mask stares at her brother, not sure if he is joking or not. "Are you serious? Why am I not surprised that such talk comes from a Thistle?" A tilt of her head. "Are you trying to tell me that vampires have got you addicted to...what? Blood? I don't think this is very funny, Cash."
"Okay, so I know sometimes I can be a little flat when I'm trying to explain something carefully but that isn't sarcasm. I am fucking serious, Ash." Cash meets her eyes again to double down on this before looking at his folded jacket. "A bunch of us drank at the beach. It's fuzzy but it made me feel so good. I think I was talking to people and happy and looking them in the eye without wanting to crawl out of my skin from the sheer intensity." He pauses. Breathes.
"Anyway, I've been craving it and having weird dreams and then the sun and sleepiness kicked in...it was fading and I was cool with that. And then like I said, we went up there and everyone took that second..or third? Hit. They made Esme drink twice because I left. She didn't protest. I only protested because...well, they told us not to leave but that was after we heard the person in the steamer trunk." Beat. "I still had to fight the urge to not drink from that bottle."
Cash is being serious so Ashley will listen. Though what she is hearing doesn't make any sense. Vampires aren't real. It sounds like a metaphor for drug taking. Cash has to create 'stories' because he can't handle the truth...but he seems so certain.
"Person in the steamer trunk?" Things have just moved up a level. "Have you called the police? Have you told mom and dad?" Ashley holds up the flyer. "Is this what this is all about? You're turning into a vampire or something? Is Esme?" She's going to have to and see her cousin to get confirmation about all this. "Do you still have the urge? I mean...if I showed you a cross, what would happen?" A shake of her head. "What am I saying? Vampires don't exist, Cash."
"I've told Hector, Spear Thistle and you about this. I'm scared shitless!" Cash exclaims to his jacket. "I don't want to be in a trunk." He sighs. "I'm okay right now. The effects have been fading and I can only assume they will continue. Toss the vampire thing. Something fucked up happened Saturday night. Please talk to Esme. Do not say I told yo--well, I was the only one who didn't drink. I'd be the sober narc. It doesn't matter. I...I was going to say I didn't care. But I do. I care what happens to me." His fidgeting hands reveal what looks like a braided trio of wires wrapped around his left ring finger. "I might go to the police. I saw that Brenda--something was missing and..." He shrugs. "I need to sleep on it. On a mattress. Not a couch. Or patch of sand. But, uh, after you drink, you forget things. Esme might not--I don't know. Ash...what do I do?" He offers his left hand. "He proposed." He says, sounded almost defeated. He seems to realize this. "I'm happy. Like, 'nother level happy. I'm just scared."
"How do you know the others all had another drink if you left?" Ashley asks, worried about her brother's fear. "Why would they put you in a trunk? What...what did they do the person in the trunk?" Now she is starting to sound a little afraid too. "Do you remember the name of the woman who gave you the drink? We could do an anonymous tip to the cops about a drug dealer. We have to let them know, right? I mean, you won't get in trouble." She's not sure about that last part but she will hope it is true. At least the nice news is nice and Ashley finds a smile at the 'ring'. "I'm so happy for you both." She gives her brother a tight hug. "Looks like a good reason to keep alive to me" Ashley agrees. "But don't run away, Cash. We have to do something about this. For Esme too."
Cash hugs her back as if he missed her terribly. He seems to calm down a bit. "Fran. I can call in a tip. I will. Good idea. I saw them all drink. I looked back because I thought they'd be behind me and they weren't. They all drank. Esme twice." He sniffs. "I'm not running away again. No. This is weird and crazy and upsetting and scary but I'm brave. And I will do what I can to fix it." He looks at his wire ring. "I gave him my class ring." With the twins boom, Cash didn't pick his birthstone as his center stone. He picked onyx because of the Johnny Cash and the Man in Black theme he's been living his whole life. He never wore it. He didn't like how it felt. Too heavy, he'd say, to play piano. Weirder on guitar. "It was in my glove box, so, convenient. These wires are light and thin. So it's better. Means more too." He swallows. "I need to get some rest. I gotta catch up from my skip day, yeah?" He stands up. "Ash? I won't be a stranger, okay? This has been a really rough patch and I should have come to you but I isolated myself. Not healthy. I know that."
"Fran." Ashley nods as she commits the name to memory; she may get all Nancy Drew herself. No one fucks with her brother! "If they //are// vampires, remember they can't come in the house without an invitation" she half teases. "Go and get some sleep and we'll sort this out in the morning. And you better not be a stranger. I have problems too, you know, and I've missed having my brother to talk to." Another loving hug, making sure to avoid getting her mask cream all over him.