All doorways in the front part of the house lead to the front hallway, a J-shaped area with the short tail starting at the stairs, the front door hitting the bottom curve, the doorless opening to the living room halfway up the long side, and the also doorless opening to the kitchen and dining room at the very top. The hall has a simple wooden floor, and decorated with a generic print of soft-colored flowers hanging on the wall to the right of the front door, and a tall table sitting under the print which serves as a place to toss keys. A closet under the stairs serves as a place to hang coats or to toss shoes.
The doorless opening to the living room is halfway up the side of the hall's J, and the word cozy might spring to mind when looking into is, as it seems to radiate comforting vibrations. A long couch sits against the south wall beneath a large bay window curtained only by sheers that manages to obscure the view in but only filters the day's light. A variety of out-of-date magazines are strewn atop a low coffee table; more neatly presented are the plethora of books filling the small bookshelves which line the eastern wall. Three chairs sit about the room, focused inward, to allow group conversations. Large floor pillows are stacked in one corner of the room, except one, which lies carelessly in the middle of the floor, apparently left out the last time it was used.
An opening in the northern end of the hallway allows access to the kitchen and dining room at the back of the house, while carpeted stairs twist up at the other end of the hall, leading to the second floor. A door at the base of the J lets out to the front porch.
This clearing has recently undergone a bit of construction, though it seems that at least some attempt has been made to keep the new structures harmonious with the landscape around them. The central area is dominated by a cookfire; in the southwest corner a shelter has been dug into the earth and covered, while to the northwest, an open-air cabin of sorts has been built. Except for the area around the fire, it seems nature has been allowed to take its course. However, those of a naturalistic bent might think that some minimal landscaping or planning had been done, for nestled among the winter-browned grasses are a few hardy perennials that, come spring, will create a profusion of color in the clearing.
A faint trail leads off to the east, and a bit north.
Homey is the first word to come to mind when looking at the farmhouse's kitchen. Dark, wood-paneled wainscoting covers the walls to about waist height, dark beige wallpaper continuing to the ceiling. Twin refrigerators occupy the north wall, facing the large six-burner stove on the south. The kitchen counter runs the length of the eastern wall, broken only by the double-basin sink. Cabinets run above and below the counter and a twin-pane window is set in the wall above the sink. A small pantry is set into an alcove alongside the refrigerators, presumably holding the deep freezer as well as shelves of dry goods.
Some twelve feet above the floor, a large chandelier hangs from the ceiling, lighting the dining room and casting long shadows over the bar to the kitchen. A long table occupies the center of the dining room, three chairs setting along each side, and one on each end. On the west wall, a large window looks out on the trees alongside the western pasture. Set into the north wall is a large cabinet, its glass doors closed on shelves containing a full compliment of fine china and glassware as well as a few decorative nicknacks. On the east, a wide bar separates the dining room from the kitchen.
An opening in the southern wall allows passage to the front entryway of the house, while a sliding glass door in the kitchen opens to a clearing behind the house.
Alicia heads into the living room after a quick clean up of the kitchen, figuring she may as well keep up the chores.
Bernie heads into the living room simultaneously, though through the front door rather than the kitchen arch. Her less than completely sunny expression brightens as she catches sight of her friend, and she greets her with an enthusiastic, "Hey!"
Alicia looks up and blinks a few times, giving a smile. "Hey Bunny.. How are you doing?" She pauses for a moment, looking at her up and down. "Are you ok?" That last one is demanded.
Bernie blinks at the name, and shakes her head. "Not you too!" she exclaims, though she doesn't sound too terribly upset at it. Wandering vaguely through the room, she drops her backpack onto the couch, and heads for the fridge. "I dunno. Been better. Not so bad as I could be. How 'bout you? 'sup, 'snew, how's th' Compound?"
Alicia shrugs her head, following after her. "Compound is fine...but I don't think you are for some reason. Cameron told me you got shit faced the other night and he wouldn't let me see you. An well, I've never seen you go so far to fuck yer'self up that badly.. Whats wrong?"
Bernie emerges from the kitchen again, with a bottle of Guinness rescued from it's otherwise certain fate at the hands of a Fianna. This one gets a Gnawer, instead. She smirks fleetingly at the lid as she walks back in, and the cap pops off the bottle, slightly into the air, where she catches it with her free hand. "Cam 'zaggerates. I wasn't -that- drunk. I only had four, di'n' throw up, barely even hadda hangover 'r anythin', an' tha's just 'cause I barely ate that day an' I was drinkin' too fast." She flops down in her customary couch corner, taking a sip from the bottle.
Alicia frowns and reaches over, snagging the bottle from the Gnawer. "I don't thing he was exagerrating about this tho'. And you /have/ been drinking an awful lot, even more so now that Matt is gone." Her voice almost seems accusing at this point. "This is not healthy, and I don't think I've ever seen you drink anything else." She craddles the bottle in her hand, gripping the neck tightly until her knuckles turn white. "I want you to slow down on this stuff ok? Please?"
"I'm not drinkin' -that- much," Bernie protests, though she doesn't try to forcibly pull the bottle back, which could be interpreted to support either view. "An' I'm drinkin' other shit. Honest. I hadda Coke jus' this mornin', ask Kaz 'f you wanna. An' another this afternoon, only no one else was 'round, then. An' I haven't drunk anythin' else all day. How slow d'ya want me t' -go-?"
"Ever heard of 'water' Bernie? Look, yer' what? 16? This shit isn't good for you, at all. And you aren't a Fianna either." Alicia's eyes narrow a bit, glancing her over. "I just don't want you to hurt yer'self, or turn to alcohol as a crutch because you miss him. Thats not cool Bernie, and don't act like its not, and don't say it isn't, I'm not stupid." She's again, firm with this. "And I am concerned ok? I really am, you are my best friend and I'd hate myself if I was able to help, and didn't."
Bernie's expression is hard to read, but she sounds somewhat exasperated, "Yeah, I hearda water, it's what I shower in. Look, 'lish, I 'preciate thatcha care an' all, butcher overreactin', totally. I got drunk once. -Once!- In my -life-, okay? I am honestly not drinking all that much. Really. Scout's honour. Okay?" She sighs, running the unoccupied hand through her curls, and continues more quietly. "It was pretty nice, bein' drunk. Relaxing. But I'm not going for a repeat at the moment, swear t' God. 's notta habit or anythin'."
Alicia shrugs her shoulders, handing back the bottle. "Sure... whatever.. too bad God doesn't exist right? Wrong person to swear to." With that, she heads back out to the kitchen, then the backdoor, letting it thump behind her.
Bernie sighs. "Fuuuuck," she mutters, and sets the bottle down, following Alicia out.
[The Sept Compound]
Reads-In-Dark trots into view, nose near the ground, looking pretty annoyed for a dog. She lifts her head and looks around as she moves into the clearing proper.
It seems that the dug out shelter has been dug out just a bit more then usual. There's a sleeping bag set up near the fire pit, which has been lit, most likely by Dante or Brigid from earlier. Alicia is sitting near by it now, her hair untied from its pony tail, staring into the flames quietly, reaching for a sketch pad.
Reads-In-Dark trots over, shifting up as she walks, and plops herself down beside Alicia. knees up against her chest, arms about her legs. "You run fuckin' fast," she remarks in apparent annoyance, after quite a few seconds pause.
"Ya live as a wolf for nearly a month straight, and you get real fast." Comes her reply as she peers into the flames, then begins on a new drawing after turning to a fresh page. "That an I know all the short cuts now, got the entire bawn memorized, inch by inch."
"Well," the other cub says. "That's impressive." She stares into the fire herself, quiet for another long stretch.
Alicia nods her head slowly in regards, allowing her pencil to flow perfectly across the pad. "I guess.. its just a requirement." She sighs softly. "Dante says he doesn't want me hanging around the other tribes as much. That its not helping me learn to be a true Child of Gaia."
Bernie leans forward slightly, resting her chin in the divot between her knees. "So I -am- a bad influence, then," she interprets, flatly. "Figures."
"I'm not saying you are, and neither did he. He just wants me in an environment, where I can learn easier, without all these conflicts in my life. He wants me to share the same passions as the tribe does, and I have to agree with him. If I am to survive my passage, I need to focus on the important things, and learn to utilize them to my advantage."
"Not tryin' t' be confrontational here," Bernie comments, not moving from her position, "but that mean friends are conflicts an' unimportant things? Just tryin' t' figure out where I stand, here. Or sit. Whatever."
Alicia sighs heavily, staring off into the flame. "I'm just saying, that I have to really cram ok? I gotta focus, I need to make sure I know this stuff backwards and forwards in my head, and maybe you should do some of that as well." She comments lightly. "If any of us are going to survive, we have to really dedicate ourselves to the task at hand here. You are important to me, just that.. next few days... You know.. I gotta listen to Dante and to the others, and really get on it."
"Yeah," Bernie replies, rather flatly again, and unwraps her arms, pushing back up to her feet. "Guess I better leave y'to it then. You study well. Think I'll jus' go back an' c'mmune with my Guinness. 'fore it gets flat. See ya when I see ya." With that, she starts back out toward the Farmhouse, hands deep in her jacket pockets.
Alicia feels her face crumble with emotion, but doesn't turn her head to the Gnawer's direction. She keeps herself neutral, as best she can, and continues silently on, sketching in her pad.
[...not long after...]
Bernie is sitting at the kitchen table, not looking at all her usual cheery self. She's staring off into the near distance -- glaring might be a more accurate word -- and her jaw seems rather tight, only moving when she takes a swallow of the bottle of Guinness she's drinking. It's almost empty, and there's a completely empty one on the table beside her. There's also a neat line of several more, full and capped, just sitting there. Like a queue. It looks like a mission.
Someone's singing, out back. "Weigh hey, and /up/ she rises..." It cuts off while Kaz deals with the door, and then she emerges, hay in her hair. Cheerfully, she says, "Th' hey, Bern, how's--" and then cuts off. "Um. Yeah. Who pissed in your Wheaties?"
"I don't eat Wheaties," Bernie replies in a soft but sullen tone, without looking up, and drains what little remains in the current bottle. The empty is moved neatly beside the other, and she pulls the first of the line of full ones toward it, giving the lid a wilting look. The top pops off and clatters to the table.
Kaz leans against the doorjamb. "Well. What /do/ you eat, that someone pissed in?"
"I dunno," the cub mutters, eyeing the bottle. "Words?" She takes a mid-sized swallow of the beer.
Kaz thumps her heel against the wall. "Lookit, somethin' happened. I just wanna know... Well." She stops. Voice going a little softer, she takes a few steps toward the cub. "Y'know. I give a shit. I wanna help."
Bernie's shoulders slump a little, and she tilts her head forward a bit, curls falling in a curtain to cloak most of her face. Not gonna cry. Not gonna fucking cry... she cries. It's silent at first, just a slight movement of her shoulders, the few tears falling so far hidden by her hair. The bottle stays on the table, for now, though she doesn't let go of it -- if anything, her hand tightens slightly around it.
Those first several paces were in wary anticipation of this, and she's over to the cub almost as soon as Bernie's slumped. A sitting person isn't very easy to hug, but Kaz is certainly trying to, making soft noises in her throat that mean practically nothing.
Bernie slowly keels over against the Galliard, head dropping sideways against her, the cub's sobbing gradually becoming audible, though still quiet.
Kaz crouches down to make the keeling slightly easier, and just hugs, the hand on Bernie's back patting softly. She doesn't seem in any hurry to make the cub talk, anymore; she's just present. There.
Eventually, Bernie's hand uncurls itself from the bottle, and falls into her lap, beside the other. She just cries, for quite a while; several minutes at the very least. It always feels longer.
Eventually, once the main rush of tears has slacked off, Kaz asks, quietly, "Tell?" She's still there, crouched down, hugging; she doesn't seem to be planning to go away for quite some time.
Bernie seems at a loss for words. "I... it's... it's just... 's like..." She gives up, silent again but for the residual little gasps for air, trying to compose herself a bit more, until she manages, very quietly, "...they 'bandoned me."
Kaz lets up slightly once Bernie starts talking, but she's still there, rubbing her back quietly. She chews on her lip. "So what you were worried 'bout this afternoon...?"
Bernie is silent again, for several moments, still looking downward, hair covering much of her face. One hand works its way in to remove her glasses, and set them on the table. Tears are rapidly drying on the lenses, leaving tiny round salty spots. "Tomorrow?" she begins, "..'s three weeks. Something could be wrong, or, or, I don't know...." Even quieter, very close to a whisper, "and what if he doesn't come back? I don't... I don't want him not to come back." She stops, in danger of dissolving in tears again, and wipes her eyes ont he back of her hand. "...an', 'licia..." She just trails off there, not knowing what to say about that.
Kaz's patting mostly stills, although she occasionally keeps at it. "Yeah," she says, softly. "I mean, I can't see him /not/ comin' back, but that ain't no easier. An'... What about Alicia?"
"She..." the cub starts, and stops again, agitated. "I dunno. I dunno what happened, 'zactly," she continues, subdued. "She was all worried 'cause I got kinda drunk th' other night. An' 'cause I happened t' start t' have a beer t'night. So she was all acting like I was turning inta an alcoholic or somethin', an' I was tellin' her, don't worry, I really don' drink all that much, an' that was th' only time I've ever been drunk, an' I'm not out t' do it again or anythin'..." She breaks off, and looks at the table a moment. "...well, wasn't, anyway," she amends, and continues, "an' she got mad at me an' ran off back t' th' compound, so I went t' try an' see what th' deal was, an' she's all, Daaaante says I gotta not int'ract with other tribes so much 'f I'm gonna be a proper li'l coggie, Daaante doesn't want all these conflicts in my life, 'f I'm gonna pass my Rite, I gotta focus on th' -important- things, an' I'm like, so, what, are friends conflicts an' unimportant an' shit then? an' she's like, I gotta study, fuck off. ....okay, she didn't act'ly -say- fuck off, not in so many words, anyhow, but tha's what she said anyhow." A pause, and slightly bitterly, "...so I fucked off."
The hand on her back balls up, just briefly, but that's the only physical sign of Kaz's anger. She seems willing to crouch there for quite some time. "Jesus Christ, Bern." It's quiet, but fervent. She doesn't say any of the bitter words that are building in her eyes; she just asks, "C'n I help any?"
Bernie shakes her head slightly, one hand reaching out to take hold of the bottle again. She doesn't actually pick it up, just sort of tilts and rotates it along the edges of its base against the tabletop, watching it move. "...I dunno," she replies after a moment. "I mean, 'side from lis'nen' t' me an' all... which, thanks... I jus'... I wanna go home. Only, not home. I dunno..."
Kaz's hand unclenches, as she watches the bottle move, as well. "You wanna go somewhere where life makes sense?" It's a guess, but she doesn't sound very tentative about it.
"...well," Bernie says quietly, after considering that, "tha'd be a start, yeah. Like it when things make sense. Things should make sense." She continues to move the bottle, watching the liquid slosh more and more dangerously near the opening as the angle gets a bit wider.
Kaz slides away so that she's primarily only got an arm around Bernie's shoulders. "Be nice if I could have a borin' life for awhile, yeah. Be nice of any of us could." There's a sudden, very warm smile, and she adds, "'Course, then you wouldn't have the possibility f'growth, change, love, laughter, all sortsa things. So I think it's a good trade, all'n all." After a moment, she adds, watching the can, "In the long run." Her smile fades.
"Fat girls aren't good at long runs. We get outta breath," Bernie replies, voice deadpan but lips actually quirking up slightly at one corner. She sighs. "...I don' wanna have things be -borin'-. But I like when things make sense anyhow. An'...," another pause, and she rights the bottle carefully, murmuring, "I don' like when things hurt this much."
"Yeah." Kaz speaks relatively softly. "Ain't none of it any fun. Gettin' y'heart stomped on, I mean. Only thing that helps 'n these kinda times is that a lotta times, y'go to bed thinkin' one thing, an' then get confronted th' next day with an entirely different thing."
Bernie gives one tiny, close-mouthed laugh. "...yeah, well, for all I know th' somethin' completely diff'rent I'll get confronted with'll be, like, that Wyrmy gelatinous cube thing you were talkin' 'bout b'fore. Then 'gain maybe a spotta righteous vi'lence'd be c'thartic. I dunno." Her hand comes up, fingers slowly moving through her curls again. "...I hope somethin' fixes. 'cause I can't lose botha them... 's not fair."
Kaz's grin is crooked. "Violence often is." After a moment, she adds, "Fair," slowly. "No. It ain't." She may, perhaps, have decided something while she said that, but it'd be hard to tell. Shaking that off, she adds, "All y'can do's hope."
"...yeah..." The cub sighs again, and regards the table a moment. Then, she leans over and gives the Galliard a tight hug, if somewhat awkward due to the positioning. "Thank you," she says softly, and stands, moving the unopened bottles back to the fridge. Well, half of them -- she disappears into the pantry with the other half, then returns to reclaim her seat.
Kaz, even in awkward crouches, is a very good hugger. She pays attention. "Y'welcome," she says, equally softly. Once the cub's returned, she asks, "You wanna ride back?"
Bernie thinks about it a few seconds before shaking her head. "Thanks... but I think I'll jus' take in th' 'riginal dec'dence. I don' think I wanna sleep all 'lone in Mark Two t'night..." She presses her lips together briefly, glancing at the remaining, open bottle. "Thanks, though," she repeats.
Kaz offers, "C'd crash with Max'n me, if you wanted. But ok." She puts her arm back around her shoulders, squeezes gently, and rises to her feet. "Y'welcome."
"Thanks," Bernie repeats once more, giving the galliard a weak but genuine smile. "I'll see ya t'marra, I 'spect, or soon anyhow... an' maybe things'll work 'emselves out... jus' gotta see, I guess. You're right."
Kaz says, "Yeah, mebbe." Shrugging, she stuffs her hands in her pockets. "Anyway. G'luck sleepin', an' g'night." She heads out into the living room, grabs her pack, and is gone out the door.