The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

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The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:39 pm

It was Sunday afternoon, and while his roommates (who he only knew on a first-name basis) were out spending leisure time… Michael Courtenay was doing math homework. Since the room would be too cluttered if everyone was provided a desk, the tiny boy was sitting cross-legged on the bottom bunk of Bed #2 surrounded by textbooks. The math one was cracked open to the correct page with a piece of looseleaf on the opposite page he was working with, the books for other classes being stacked on the floor in alphabetical order by subject and in perfect alignment… because he almost had a small panic attack when the stacked books flopped over since the bed was soft and what little weight he had was making the bed sink slightly. He saved math for last, with no rationale behind it other than he usually began with math as he studying for his courses- he wanted to try something different.

Michael believed he was stupid and that he struggled with every subject. If he didn’t study, he’d surely fail, and if he failed… well, his father wouldn’t beat him now since he would likely never see him again, but he didn’t like failing- it only proved how much of a hopeless case he was, which did wonders for the remaining bits of self-esteem he had left.

Despite mathematics being one of his better subjects, algebra was something he struggled with worse than memorizing dates for history- his brain was much better wired for geometry. But alas, his assignment involved quadratic equations, not figuring out angles. Just because he frequently did extra work for seemingly no reason, (obsessions didn’t need to make any logical sense) Michael told himself that he would graph all of the equations he solved into parabola form, because he liked graphing. It involved geometry and he could make the straightest (or in the case of U-shaped parabolas, most accurate) lines possible. It was fun… to him, at least. Compulsively hard work was his idea of fun, whether it was cleaning, exercising or studying. This was one of the many reasons he was admitted to Highgrove.

Michael was very nearly done with all of the problems, although some of them gave him trouble, and stopped suddenly when he read the second to last problem:


Immediately, this ignited his anxiety. His hazel eyes widened in fear and hopelessness. How was he going to solve a problem like this? The other ones weren’t like it. Did he not pay enough attention in class to understand it? Did he take the wrong notes? Why was it so unfamiliar if the teacher had surely taught it to the class? It was his fault. It was his fault. It was his fault- it always was. If he were smarter, he’d be able to solve it.

All of these thoughts formed a brick wall in front of Michael’s processing ability. There was no turning back now- it was all over. Every thought he had became muddled- they all clumped together and sloshed around in his mind, resembling alphabet soup that had been left in the back of the refrigerator for weeks. He felt like his breathing was being constricted by a large serpent as his chest heaved with each shallow breath.

Still sitting up, he curled his knees to his chest and buried his face in them as he chanted Timothy Roger’s implications:

“I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure-“
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Michael Courtenay

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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Elias Ortega on Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:18 pm

People came and went out of dorm one so quickly that Elias sometimes didn't have time to catch their names before they were gone again. In a way, it was kind of nice; he didn't have time to get to dislike anyone before they were whisked away to wherever sick children went at the end of the line. On the other hand, it was discombobulating. He never knew when he was going to walk in and see some new boy setting up his things, never knew what this stranger was capable of, if he should feel safe sleeping. Elias needed stability desperately, and the constant flow of boys into and out of this dorm was anything but. The current inhabitants weren't actually too bad, though; Harry was, of course, a threat, but he'd never shown any particular aggression toward Elias. The nervous kid whose name definitely began with an 'N' was okay, Nate was weird but tolerable, and Chance was always a good person to have around. The newest sucker to be stuck in dorm one was also Elias' new bunkmate; a little guy named Michael. They'd had the obligatory 'I'm new here' conversation, but Elias had kept that as concise as possible, and they hadn't spoken since. That arrangement was perfectly fine with the boy.

This Sunday afternoon, he had thus far been engaged in a restless, aimless walk around the building followed by an hour spent sitting alone in the solarium doodling in his science textbook. Elias hadn't realized how much time he'd spent with his diary until he didn't have it anymore. Just thinking about it now gave him the shivers and made him want to wash his hands; he tried his hardest to put the bloody writing out of his mind, but it haunted his nightmares, mixed with images of his father and vague but violent impressions of long consciously erased childhood memories. After he'd spent so long doodling his feelings in the margins of the old textbook, drawing over pictures of amoebas and somber-eyes scientists, he wandered back toward his dorm, listless and purposeless. Maybe he would try to go to sleep, which was by far his favorite past time. However, it became apparent that this was not going to happen as soon as he opened the door.

"I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure-"

Michael was sitting on his bed, curled into a ball, spitting this self-deprecating chant at himself, all the evidences of math homework spread before him. That was funny in itself. Who did homework when they were in what was essentially a loony bin? Elias himself hadn't bothered for a long time, if he'd even ever bothered in the first place. He'd long accepted the fact that he was stupid and had stopped trying to understand the things they taught him in school. Why bother if he was never going to get it anyway? Sighing internally, he walked closer and checked out the problems that had apparently caused this breakdown. All this over a fucking quadratic equation? Jesus. What was wrong with this kid? Elias might have been fucked up, but at least he didn't freak out over math homework.

"Hey," he said, trying his hardest to steady his voice. His tone wasn't exactly friendly; actually, it sounded sort of harsh. Well, as harsh as he could make his small, uncertain voice sound, anyway. "W-what's wrong with y-y-you?" He didn't know how to approach this situation; being nice seemed like the best route, but being nice in the traditional sense wasn't really something Elias knew how to do effectively. He'd just learned how to be mean in several equally unpleasant ways. Besides, this kid needed some sense talked into him before he started crying over these math problems, for God's sake; then someone was liable to hit him over the head with his own math book, and Elias couldn't promise that it wouldn't be him.
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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:21 pm

Freaking out over seemingly trivial things had always been a hallmark in Michael’s life. He had anxiety and full-on attacks about things that didn’t mean crap to other people, and if he thought about it carefully enough, they wouldn’t matter to him either. Unfortunately, that alone wouldn’t be enough to claw his way out of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, although it was an integral part of starting. He knew that most people didn’t freak out over a smudge on the countertop or the teacher forgetting that one little line on the blackboard after erasing something. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have legitimate things to worry about, (Like if he’d ever see Talon again, or what he was going to do about the demon inside of him, or living in fear because of his abusive foster father and the obsessions he instilled) but he worried about those too. On top of all the other stuff.

Michael was chanting his self-destructive mantra so much that he hadn’t even noticed Elias walking into the room or the sound the door made when it closed. Elias leaned a bit closer to see what all the commotion was about, and this made the smaller boy flinch and involuntarily yelp similar to the noise a puppy made when it was kicked. He locked eyes with his bunkmate, a look of surprise and fear plastered on, and then lowered his gaze as his cheeks steamed with sheepish embarrassment. In the few seconds it had taken him to realize Elias was watching him the entire time, Michael thought about what the other boy must have been feeling… and concluded that such a reaction was a bit silly. He could be beating himself about more relevant and serious things, surely.

”Hey,”

“H-Hey, Elias,” These words were drawn out with awkwardness and uncertainty, reflecting the embarrassment that he felt. His eyes shifted a few times from the bed, to Elias, to the corner of the room, to the bed… back and forth in nervousness. He could smell his roommate’s discontent with him, and didn’t blame him in the least for any of it. It was obviously his fault- perhaps Elias came back to the room to sleep or do something quiet… which was out of the question now.

And then the age-old question came that wiped the twitchy and awkward expression off of Michael’s face and replaced it with surprise, then somberness- though not quite sadness. He knew exactly what was wrong with him- he was an undergrown failure with two anxiety disorders and a demon inside of him, which probably wasn’t much of a way to go through life. Still, he had to come up with some sort of answer. He laughed lightly and nervously while scratching the back of his neck and moving his knees to a cross-legged position.

“Sorry. That was kind of dumb, wasn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard for me to stop worrying about things that don’t actually matter. Although not understanding something you’re about to be tested on does matter because you might fail-“ He paused after catching on that he was rambling. “Well, I don’t know. I guess I was freaking out so much because I might fail the test, and even though my father won’t beat me for it now, I still don’t want it to happen. It’ll only make me feel worse about myself.”

Despite this being a pretty emotional statement, he only shrugged. “So where were you all day? Where does everyone else usually go on Sunday’s?”

He noticed the science textbook in Elias’s hand. “Were you studying too?”
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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Elias Ortega on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:40 pm

Elias felt marginally bad about surprisingly his roommate, but not bad enough to make an apology. If the kid was legitimately going to sit here and rock back and forth and call himself a failure over and over, then he'd already done most of the embarrassing for himself. Being caught at it was just icing on the cake. Elias probably shouldn't have been so judgmental, seeing as two months or so ago had seen him crying his eyes out in the attic with some girl he'd never met before. That had been when he was at the same juncture that Michael was at now; he'd only been here for a week or less, and he was scared and transitioning medications and unsure of what was to come. But the profoundly fragile self-confidence of a teenager could forget that and focus itself instead on the shortcomings of everyone else.

Elias made a face as Michael pretty much spilled his sad life story...it filled him with a rush of pity and disdain, and, worst of all, empathy. It just made him feel worse about being surly with the other kid now that he knew what they had in common. Elias' father had never cared much about his marks, though. He'd merely wait until he got the report, shake his head, give the back of his son's head a healthy smack, and say, "You're just too stupid to do any better, Elias." Despite Carmela's frequent, loud and quite forceful insistence that he was not stupid and that he could do well in school if he would "apply himself", whatever that meant, it had been drilled into his head for too long. Elias shrugged.

"G-guess I unders-stand." He leant against the side of the bed where the ladder to his bunk was. "M-me? Just...around." Elias was not used to people inquiring after what he was doing. He didn't even know what he was doing half of the time, much less what everyone else was doing. He always assumed that they were having more fun than he was, but maybe that was a false assumption after what he had just found Michael up to. "I g-guess they hang out...in l-like, the activities r-room or on the c-computers or they j-j-just w-wander about. I d-dunno." I'm alone most of the time. He looked down at his science book when Michael mentioned it; he'd forgotten that he had it. Like he would study this stuff. Even if Elias had intended to reach adulthood, which at the moment, he didn't, he definitely wasn't going to study cells or balance chemical equations for a living. Why would he waste his time fussing over it now?

"N-no." He opened to the page he'd stuck his marker in, which was covered with mysterious, cryptic doodles, and turned it towards the other boy. This little act of vandalism didn't strike him as particularly destructive, but he knew that defacing science books was probably frowned upon here as it was everywhere else. It could have been worse; the person who'd had this book before him had drawn numerous swastikas in the margins. Elias had methodically doodled over the symbols with squiggles and triangles and things that looked vaguely like roadkill. He didn't really feel the need to explain himself; it seemed pretty obvious. Michael would probably faint. He seemed like the kind of kid who would have an aneurysm over drawing in a text book; he probably wouldn't tear the tags off of mattresses. Something about the sort of personality made Elias feel venomous; it was the vestiges of his father's voice in his head again. It never seemed to go away. Elias closed the textbook again and tossed it up onto his bed. Maybe he would doodle over the chapter about the periodic table when this conversation was over.
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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:06 pm

Elias’s inner thoughts about Michael were extremely accurate. For the boy, this was a rougher transition than his other stays in children’s homes. What made this one especially difficult was that Talon, his beloved big brother, hadn’t done what his previous caretakers had. He didn’t have a specific memory of his birth mother giving him up, as he was too little, so the pain of losing her wasn’t exactly there, other than the pain of not receiving an answer to who she was… what she looked like… what she smelled like. Farmer Hubert Wallace, whom Michael had affectionately named ‘Granpa’, sent him right back to the Children’s Home of Bridlington (Where he had spent the majority of his life) within a year… simply because he couldn’t stand his foster son (or grandson, however one wanted to look at it) constantly cleaning or making clumsy mistakes reflecting inexperience around the farm.

And then there was Talon. Although the smaller boy hadn’t known this, Talon was similar in role to Elias’s brother, Diego. Talon was the first person to truly love and protect Michael from the evil that existed in the Rogers home. Talon, weeks before, had sent in a letter to Child Protection Services to have both boys sent out of their ‘home’, to avoid further injury. But it was clear that Michael’s anxiety wasn’t going to be ‘cured’ at the local clinic… so the only choice was Highgrove. The difference between Talon and his birth mother/’Grandparents’ was that Talon hadn’t meant for the two to be separated- it was a court order. Michael knew that Talon still loved him and that he hadn’t meant to ‘give him away’ like all those others did… so the sense of closure wasn’t there, and that was all that Michael knew how to deal with. Highgrove, even though it was a children’s home and therefore something he was used to, was a whole new animal because of this.

Even though Elias had found Michael curled in a ball about to have an anxiety attack, he hadn’t experienced a full-blown anxiety attack yet at Highgrove, which was indeed surprising. It was mostly the depression of losing Talon that Michael grappled with- the feeling hadn’t receded, but the pain had with time. He met Dilly, who made him very happy and experience emotions he’d never felt before- she truly was special, and she was definitely his first crush. Only time would tell if Dilly would become his first love. Aside from Dilly, he also spent time by studying (Which he enjoyed because it was productive, and didn’t enjoy because he beat himself up over every mistake.) and swam in the pool often, doing laps. He wondered if the staff would permit him a stopwatch so he could time himself by running or swimming. Hard work was fun, at least to him.

In short, he had at least started to get used to Highgrove, but there were various setbacks and things to worry about. For right now though, Elias was the subject to focus on, not self-loathing… for now.

Like everything else, Michael spoke the truth about the man named Timothy Rogers, one of the elders in a cultist, family-based Christian congregation… and a tax collector. Even from just knowing about his occupations most would consider him evil. They would definitely consider him evil if they’d known that he caned his children for not getting the grades he deemed acceptable, cleaning and having a submissive (‘womanly) attitude in terms of Michael and being gay in terms of Talon. He was intolerant, brutal and abusive and yet… Michael thought he was a good person on the inside. He had to be. Everyone was. No one was born evil, right?

Michael saw Elias’s face as he talked about his father, and truthfully didn’t mean to let the detail slip out. He didn’t know what to make of his expression and wondered in fear if he insulted him somehow, then relaxed once Elias shrugged. He felt better that the other boy was a little bit more at ease now, and lowered his shoulders and smiled in response. He was glad that Elias understood.

“I’ll try to understand too. I mean, if you want me to.”

This was the kind of person he was- he listened to people talk and offered empathy whenever possible. It became clear that Elias wasn’t one for talking, but the statement’s meaning was that if he ever wanted to, his bunkmate would listen compassionately.

He’d noticed Elias’s prominent stutter when they first introduced themselves to each other. They hadn’t spoken since, and the subject wasn’t something that boys normally talked about, but Michael knew the frustration of stuttering as well when his anxiety was exploding through the roof.

“I haven’t been to those places yet,” Michael smiled distantly. “I haven’t actually talked to many people either. You and I talked once, and then…”

Immediately, his face turned the color of a fire truck when he thought about…

“I-I met this girl when I first came to Highgrove. I was crying a lot because I missed my brother. Do you have a brother? Or siblings? I was worried that Talon would forget about me eventually, but she made me feel better, I guess. She’s brilliant. Her name is Dilly, short for Dilwen. She’s Welsh.”

These sentences were spoken with a very choppy, speedy pace that could only be associated with a young, head-over-heels crush.

He shook his head to try to get his face back to the natural color. “A-Anyway, c-c-can I…” He paused in frustration, and then brought himself back. “I can’t talk to Talon about it right now because I don’t know where to get stamps. H-Have you ever… liked anyone?”

Seeking relationship advice from a guy who didn’t seem to like talking to him much probably wasn’t the most cautious of moves, but it was on the subject, he reasoned…

When Elias revealed his doodles, Michael stared in wonder as if they were the greatest things he’d ever seen. His wide eyes marveled at the on-the-whim doodles as if Elias were a teenaged Picasso. His childish response was common with things that other people did- Talon got the most of this, usually, but other peoples’ talents were things of beauty to the boy because he didn’t think he was good at anything at all.

“Wow… that’s wicked. I can’t draw anything, not even stick figures- is that roadkill? Or an explosion? Or…”

((BRING ON THE AWKWARD… hahaha when I wrote about Dilly, David Archuleta’s “Crush” came into my head. Razz ))
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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Elias Ortega on Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:49 pm

Elias blinked at the red-faced Michael. This kid was as bad as Laura. It took him a moment to run all that he'd said through his head, and once he had, he didn't know how to respond anyway. Did he have a brother? Yes, and he missed him terribly. There was some Welsh girl who was apparently pretty amazing. Did Elias know how to pick up said Welsh girl, since Michael's brother was unavailable? Firstly, it seemed pretty risky to Elias to ask an older brother this kind of thing. This "Talon" was obviously a pretty understanding person, because Diego would have been making fun of his younger brother for weeks had he been asked a question like that. Secondly, was it not obvious to anyone else that he didn't know anything about girls? It seemed pretty evident to him that no girl would ever want to talk to, let alone go out with a stuttering idiot like Elias. He tried not to scowl, but he was pretty sure he was failing. Reluctant to open his mouth, afraid of what variety of stupidity would come forth, he cautiously replied,

"Y-yeah, I have a b-brother. His n-name's D-Diego..." Brilliant wealth of information. Elias thought about saying something about how his brother would hopefully never forget about him, because he'd saved his life once, at a cost higher than he had been ready to pay, but that was a little more than he wanted anyone to know. Even with his unfortunate habit of blurting unpleasant facts at inopportune moments, he could manage to reign that information in. "L-l-liked anyone? Um. I g-guess so." How to put this delicately...you really don't want my advice. I know nothing about this, trust me. He tried to conjure up any advice he had ever received to this persuasion, but couldn't come up with anything. The male role model figures in his life up to this point had all been abusive misogynists, Diego included. Elias was not at all comfortable with the way his brother treated girls, like they were expensive, bipedal pets. "Why? D-do you l-like that g-girl? Dilly?"

No-one had ever referred to Elias' senseless doodles as 'wicked' before, and the boy would have been wary of mockery had Michael not been so guileless. He himself didn't really know what was on the page, mostly because he hadn't really intended it to be anything in particular. It was like his central nervous system spread across the waxy pages in marker.

"It's...it c-can be w-whatever you w-want," Elias said noncommittally, shrugging. "It's j-just a bunch of s-s-scribbling." Even if he was good at drawing, which, unfortunately, he really wasn't, Elias wouldn't have known it. Talents, hobbies and activities had always belonged to other people, had always been something that he didn't and couldn't have. Carmela had tried to get him involved in a variety of things; sports, clubs, and, in a horrendous lapse of judgement and tact, the drama department. Sports almost always involved being hit with something, and how could that ever be fun? Clubs involved making friends and actually being engaged in something, and drama involved talking in front of a huge crowd of people. He could have been good at any one of those things, more than one, all of them, but he would never know because he was too afraid to try.

((RPer confession time: I totally sing that song every time I log into Elias' account. Seeing David Archuleta's face is enough to get it stuck in my head. xDD))
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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:33 pm

It was impossible not to see Elias’s poorly hidden scowl, and Michael’s thought process went straight to the worst… as usual. He wondered just what he said to offend the older boy- perhaps he didn’t have any siblings and hated everyone who did? Or maybe his one true love died in a terrible accident and now he hates the subject of love being brought up? (If this were true, perhaps this was why he was at Highgrove?) Or maybe he just didn’t like Michael because he was squirrelly and annoying, and that was alright in the younger boy’s eyes. He actually expected people to hate him upon first meeting- the fear was always in the back of his head, but the hope that they wouldn’t allowed him to show his true qualities- sincere, naïve… and painfully lame. But he noticed, although he didn’t think this of Elias… other people might have thought his bunkmate was lame too. They could be lame together.

Michael breathed a small sigh of relief once Elias admitted to having a brother. None of what he initially thought was true! He was happy about that- for Elias’s mental health and his safety. And now they had something in common as well! They both had brothers. That was a start.

“Is Diego older or younger?” Michael offered meekly. “And what’s he like? Are you close with him? Talon and I are really close- technically, we’re only foster brothers, but that doesn’t make us any less related… not in our eyes anyway. When I was fostered by the Rogers, I think he was the first person to actually love me, because I spent most of my life in a children’s home. I think you’d like him, Elias- he’s strong-willed and cool… and really talented! And… I miss him a lot.”

His face became solemn after he said that, but then he rested his cheek on his knees as he faced Elias. “Do you miss Diego? Do you know where he is? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

He sat up again, his face serious: “I’m just starting to learn how hard it is being away from Talon. He’s the only family I have and the first person who actually protected me from anything. And… the hardest part I think… is that my first foster parents gave me back to the children’s home and didn’t want me after that, so there’s closure. You know- it’s final, and it’s easier to deal with. Talon though… when he said goodbye to me, he promised we’d see each other again… so it’s harder because I miss him so much.”

Because he’d explained this to Dilly before, he didn’t cry. He was thankful for that, because it would have been really bad if he cried in front of Elias- for one thing, boys didn’t usually cry in front of other boys. For another, it would be pretty awkward- he was sure Elias wouldn’t know what to do.

“Although, I know it would be harder if Talon told me he didn’t want me anymore. I’d never recover from it. But at least I’d know how to deal with abandonment. I’ve done it twice before.”

Michael nodded and blushed when Elias asked him if he liked Dilly. He hadn’t admitted to it yet, and this required a deep, dramatic breath:

“I… I really think I do.” He paused, then jumped off of the bed in a sudden jolt of frantic energy. “And-and I don’t know what to do because I’ve never liked anyone before, and no one’s ever liked me either, so I don’t know what to do because all of this is so new and-and-and she’s amazing, right? Like, really really kind and sincere- and we have so much in common and ahhh!”

In speaking this rapid fire of things about his crush that didn’t have a true pattern or reason to them, the tiny boy started running around in large, frantic circles. Then, he stopped and calmed down on his own.

“I mean, she’s… brilliant. We both have OCD, speech impediments, older siblings who take care of us, a fear of germs although hers is much worse… and… I- I don’t know.”

He sighed and held his head in his hand. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. Just about everything she says and does makes my stomach feel like a washing machine- in a good way. And… I don’t really want to tell her I like her- I mean, I’ve only just met her. But further down the road too because she has a gigantic fear of germs, so she won’t even hold my hand without a glove, let alone… kiss. But to tell you the truth, I’m not ready for that either, I don’t think. I’m in no rush.”

As he stared at the… thing on Elias’s science textbook in childish awe. “Can it be spilled mashed potatoes? Or an exploding cow?”

A surge of guilt passed through his central nervous system after he said that:

‘That’s a terrible joke!’
‘That’s a terrible joke!’
‘That’s a terrible joke!’
‘You wished for a cow to die on February 19th, 2012.’
‘Cows are living things!’
‘They deserve to live!’
‘How would you feel if your cow exploded?’

“I-I’m sorry!” He squeaked, then paused. “I…I guess we can leave it up to the imagination of everyone else who sees it right?”

He laughed nervously, and then asked: “Do you like to draw? What else do you like to do?”

((I KNEW IT!))
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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Elias Ortega on Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:38 pm

Elias was beginning to be dizzied by all the questions. The last time he'd been asked this many questions had been in the interview they'd made him take before he'd been shipped off to Highgrove, and that hadn't exactly ended well.

"Diego's t-two years older than m-me. He's...a-angry a l-lot, I guess, b-but he's a really n-nice guy, t-t-too. And we're really c-close." Michael's description of his foster brother made Elias miss his half-brother even more than he usually did. Diego might have never admitted to loving him, he might not be the coolest, have the strongest of wills, or even be particularly good at anything, but Elias loved him anyway, though he'd never say it aloud. Despite the teasing he got from his brother, Elias knew that Diego was the only person who had ever really had his back, and vice versa. There were no secrets, there were few arguments, and there was no hate. Elias knew that a lot of people hated their siblings, but he didn't really understand that. He had been all that stood between Diego and death by fist, and Diego had been all that stood between him and a dive off a cliff. So did he miss his brother? Yes. Did he know where he was? That was a different story entirely.

"He runs a-away a lot. He c-could be anywhere in L-Leeds right now, r-really. M-maybe anywhere in th-the UK." It had never occurred to Elias to be worried about his brother's safety; he knew how to take care of himself, apparently, as he'd always come back before. Even though Elias knew that he did drugs and often slept on the street, somehow it seemed like Diego could handle it. That maybe he was better suited to that than sitting in the house all day getting steadily more pissed off. The thought that maybe one day Diego would find somewhere infinitely better than Carmela's house and never come home was what scared him more than the hazy premonition of his death. Then what would Elias do? He would have had no-one to sit with at lunch in school, no-one to talk to at night, and absolutely no-one who understood him.

Elias watched in consternation as the boy literally raced around in a circle, babbling about his little OCD Welsh girl, and couldn't help but feel a little jealous about how excited Michael was even as he was increasingly weirded out by him. Elias couldn't remember the last time he'd been that excited about anything; his moods usually came exclusively in shades of black. He'd never had to worry about holding hands with a girl, or kissing a girl, because he was convinced that he was completely undesirable. If a girl had ever shown any interest in him, it was obviously borne from some sort of misguided pity. So he really didn't know what to say to Michael; 'good for you'? 'Have fun with that'? He tried to imagine what Diego would do, but that proved to be an exercise in futility; Diego would have gotten Michael in a headlock and squeezed until he promised to ask this girl out. He settled for,

"B-brilliant. Congrats." The lack of enthusiasm in his voice wasn't really remarkable; there was hardly ever any enthusiasm in his voice. To Michael's weird response about his doodles, he replied,

"Um. Sure. Y-yeah. I j-just kind of d-doodle b-b-because there's nothing e-else to d-do, usually." What else did he like to do? That question was harder to answer than it seemed. For most of his life, he'd either been too scared or too depressed to do anything productive; it was just now that he was realizing there was an entire world of things to do that he'd never done, a million things he'd never tried. It should have been exciting, but it was actually just terrifying. Elias avoided the question buy asking another one.

"W-well, what d-do you l-like to do?"
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Elias Ortega

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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:42 pm

Asking too many questions at once was one of those childish habits Michael never grew out of. Other people were just so interesting, and he wanted to know all about them all at once. Of course, that would have taken the fun out of normal conversation, but his eagerness to understand someone was just as strong as his eagerness to please them. He could see in Elias’s face that he was probably bombarding him- it was a familiar face that people, aside from Talon, typically made when he did such a thing. Talon usually just laughed and tried to answer all of them in the order that he heard them. Sometimes he couldn’t, though, simply because there were so many and they were spoken so fast.

At the brief description of Diego, Michael’s face brightened. “Talon’s two years older than me as well! But you’re older than me though, right? How old is he? And you said he’s angry and nice… is he one of those people whose good qualities outweigh the bad? He sounds ace though! Like Talon.”

The corners of his mouth formed a distant smile. “Is Diego different around you than he is with other people? Because Talon’s much different when he’s around his friends than when he’s with me. He’s… I don’t know, softer when he’s around me. His guard isn’t up. Is that the same with Diego?”

Talon and Michael were probably as close to each other as Diego and Elias. They were each other’s best friends- they were, essentially, all they had. Their love was what kept each other from collapsing in the cruel confines of the Rogers household. Timothy, their father, beat down the slightest opposition to his rules or the Church’s, and instilled the belief in Talon that there was something terribly wrong with him because he was gay and in Michael that whatever he did would never be good enough. Talon had to deal with both, but fortunately for him, he was strong enough to know that Timothy’s words could be meaningless if he chose them to be; Michael wasn’t. The small boy knew that if he didn’t have Talon or his love, he would have either run away or killed himself, despite his promise to God that he wouldn’t care whoever his adoptive family would be as long as he was theirs.

A sympathetic frown found its way to his face when Elias said that he didn’t know where Diego was. That must’ve been pretty hard, and scary. Elias didn’t have contact with him, he assumed, so they probably hadn’t spoken in a significant amount of time. He didn’t know if Diego was safe. Or happy. Or alone. That realization made the pit of his stomach sink deeper inside of himself, like a pool of quicksand. At least he knew that Talon was staying at the St. Adrian’s home.

“I’m sorry,” He offered somberly. It was all he could say. “Do you think he’s alright?”

Then, an idea popped into his head that made his smile return:

“I haven’t written to Talon yet because I have a different way of communicating with him. I sit somewhere quiet and pray, and then I say to God all of the things I wanted to say to Talon, and I ask Him to deliver the messages for me. Not really to his ears, but to his heart. I dunno. If you’re not religious, that’s okay- but maybe you could write Diego a letter. If you don’t know where to send it, then it could be good just to get the words out.”

The idea sounded naïve and stupid when he said it aloud, but he hoped it would help. As Michael ran around in circles describing Dilly, it never occurred to him that it was making Elias uncomfortable- not because he wouldn’t have cared, but because it didn’t seem like he had control of his body at all during that time. It was all just frantic energy spilling out of him because he had nowhere to send it. He didn’t know the first thing about romance- it was debatable whether he knew more or less than Elias. Most likely less because, in many ways, he was a child- a blank slate, and Elias probably had a general understanding of how these things worked… the negative side, anyway.

He blushed sheepishly at Elias’s words, but his focus was currently on his amazing doodles.

“What else do you draw? Do you draw whatever comes to your head? Or is there a plan usually?”

The question threw Michael off-balance a bit, just because his question was never answered. But he answered anyway:

“I like making things out of nothing! One time, I made Talon an octopus out of duct tape. I like putting things together and figuring them out, like puzzles. But I dream of finding a broken car so I can fix it! I’ve always wanted to do something with machinery, but I’ve never learned how and I don’t think Father would like the fact that I want to be a mechanic. He’d want me to go to college and study… I dunno. Things I don’t understand. And I have to do what he wishes or else-“

A shiver surged through his spine and he visibly flinched, imagining the switching he’d receive if Timothy Rogers knew his foster son wanted to be an auto-mechanic.

“N-Nevermind,” He laughed nervously. “Do you have an idea of what you want to do in the future? Because I have two ideas: learn a trade, and coach a sport to disabled children. What about you?”
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Michael Courtenay

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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Elias Ortega on Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:14 pm

Elias was caught between wanting to hug Michael and wanting to punch him in the face; which impulse was winning was yet unclear. His questions were many and prying and frightening, but he was so guileless it was hard to mind. He just decided to give up and tell this kid everything he wanted to know. If he got more then he'd wanted, well, he'd asked.

"Eighteen. He r-really w-wants to leave my s-step-mother's house, but she w-won't let h-him; she s-days it's her h-house or being c-committed, when th-they argue. Well, y-you see what option I g-g-got. So he k-keeps running a-away. He's n-nice until he g-gets angry, which happens a-all the time, s-so it's k-kind of an on and o-off thing. He's p-probably okay; he kn-knows how to t-t-take care of h-himself." Elias furrowed his brows, imagining how hard Diego would laugh at him if he tried to get God to relay a message to his heart. How hard he would laugh at the suggestion of there being a God at all. He would just rely on the regular post, and trust that Diego would reply to the letter he had sent whenever he returned home.

"I wr-wrote him a l-letter, but he n-never a-answered it. That's h-how I kn-know he isn't a-at home," Elias said, shifting uncomfortably, looking at the floor. Whether or not that letter was ever going to be answered was debatable at this point, but he was still holding out hope.

"I j-just...d-d-doodle. I don't kn-know. It's r-really not a b-big deal. R-really." During Michael's spiel about his interests, Elias' posture became more and more reserved and ill-at-ease; when Michael reached the end and cut himself off with a nervous shiver, Elias felt that distressing stab of empathy again. He did not want to talk about things like this anymore. He would have willingly pretended to know about sports or the weather or current events and had the most mundane conversation on the Earth to avoid this. His patience was slowly running out, and he thought venomously that Michael would be good at teaching disabled kids; they'd be the only ones who didn't get impatient with him.

"Y-you ask a l-lot of questions," he said, sounding as aggressive as anyone with a pronounced stutter could. Hidden in that statement was the veiled demand to back off and shut up. Elias didn't like talking about himself, and he didn't know how to politely extricate himself from the conversation. How had he even gotten into the clutches of this babbling boy in the first place?
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Elias Ortega

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Re: The Subject that Must Not Be Named! (Elias!)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:21 pm

There were a few flaws in Michael's personality that made him somewhat difficult to handle by pretty much everyone except Talon. They were usually slight, but cut down the number of people who could potentially like, or even tolerate, him significantly. Among them was the fact that he was as stable as a piece of tissue paper- there was always that risk that he'd have an anxiety attack or break down crying over something that didn't actually matter... and that he was too childish for anyone to relate to... and that he had an unhealthy desire to please others, which had the potential to make many uncomfortable and irritated. Another one of those flaws was displayed right then with Elias- he always went into a conversation assuming that everyone was as open as he was.

It wasn't as if he expected that people should be, but rather, it was something he never formally thought about- one of those traits he believed everyone possessed to some degree. He was a firm believer that everyone, from all walks of life, like to be listened to. Although, there were things that even he was uncomfortable talking about, no matter how much trust he had with the other person- the exorcism. The worst, and most confusing, part of the hard beating wasn't the physical pain itself- it was that his mother had lured him into the shark tank by asking if he'd be a good boy. It wouldn't have mattered how much it hurt- Joanna wouldn't have needed to hold him down at all, because of his promise and his love for her. It was a subject that he never really talked about, not even to Talon, because he didn't know how to accurately explain it. In his mind, he kept his promise by being good and knew that Father and the Elders were only trying to help him by driving the demon out. Though every sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and the searing, unfamiliar heat pulsating through his ribcage told him different. He knew that everyone had subjects that must not be named, but he didn't know that he was hitting nearly every single one of them in his conversation with Elias.

Michael listened to the more detailed description of Diego and didn't understand a good percentage of it. He didn't understand what the whole 'being committed' bit meant, or how someone could be half nice and half angry, but it was one of those things where he wouldn't know unless he met the person. He was sure that the problems in the house must have been really bad if Diego kept running away all the time.

He blushed sheepishly at Elias's facial expression when he mentioned the God-to-Heart thing, but took it with a grain of salt. It was a weird idea, and some people just weren't religious- there was nothing wrong with that, because he believed that the Lord loved all of His children, whether they believed in Him or not. (Contrary to the Church of the True Light's view.)

"I'm sorry," He said in response to the subject of the letters. He silently told himself he should have thought of that earlier. "I hope he reads it soon."

He smiled at Elias's awkward modesty. "You shouldn't undermine it like that. I think they're really cool."

Michael remained oblivious to the fact that he was annoying Elias- another one of his social flaws was that he usually couldn't tell if someone was angry at him unless they screamed at or beat him. Or told him outright to stay away from them. Now though, at Elias's final comment, he flinched and his face slowly changed from frightened to uncomfortable. He didn't have the slightest clue that he was annoying Elias up until then. From that point on, it looked like both boys wanted out of the conversation.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try his hand at lying.

"S-So, em-" He glanced nervously at the window and everywhere else that wasn't Elias's eyes. "I just remembered... Dilly wanted me to... er... feed the animals with her."

If the wandering eyes and slowed, nervous speech wasn't enough of a clue that the sentence was a blatant lie, both Dilly and Michael had OCD, which meant that they wouldn't hand-feed an animal even if they were wearing biohazard suits.

Nevertheless, Michael hopped off of the bed, taking his textbook with him, and when his body was halfway out the door, he looked at Elias again. This time, his eyes emanated sincerity- a clear sign that he wasn't attempting to lie anymore. He smiled warmly:

"It was nice talking to you, Elias. I hope you know I consider you a friend. Maybe we could talk about something else next time if you're up for it. Cheers!"

With that, he waved and ran down the hallway, half happily and half sadly.
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Michael Courtenay

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