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existentialism & summertime.

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The “bell” of the highschool wasn’t actually a bell, but rather an obnoxious computer beep that sounded throughout the classrooms and hallways. It was a spacious school to make up for the student body, which was comprised of well over a thousand students, disregarding any transfers or those visiting on foreign exchange. Despite the annoyance, it got the point across well enough, and even with the teachers best efforts, students poured out of classrooms and into the halls the moment the incessant ring alerted for a class change or lunch break. This time around, the alert sounded for lunch, and the hall directed toward the cafe was flooded with students of all kinds. Unlike what you’d expect, the food at this particular highschool wasn’t half bad- the specials, at least, were normally up to par with whatever the senior cooking classes were making that term. Five dollars for a semi-meal seemed like a bargain, until you took into account the pricing of literally everything else.

You win some and you lose some.

Hence the particularly skinny student digging in his pockets while standing in the lunch line- one arm wrapped in a fresh cast, the other stretched down into his cargo pants pocket for any bills or coins. If he absolutely had to, he’d pull out his debit card, but greatly preferred the pained look that was given every time he dumped a handful of change in front of the supervisor managing the small register the school owned. One of these days he was going to get hit upside the head for it, until then his habit would continue.

This was normally the case for Jamison’s behavior.

He’d earned himself a reputation among the student body, as it neared senior year the freshmen would get told off about his attitude in classes- his infamous stunts pulled- and his miraculous ability to never get suspended. There were rumors that his parents were filthy rich, and bargained every time he got caught with something. Bunch of daft cunts. Jamison couldn’t help but mull over the accusations to himself, if he was filthy rich would he be digging around for coins? Wearing the same cargo pants every day? Well, he did love the pants. The pockets kept everything he’d ever need at his disposal.

But that wasn’t the point. Truth be told, Jamison had been couch surfing since around 9th grade. He worked two part-time jobs, along with school to stay afloat- he could’ve focused on work, gotten an apartment, and dropped out of school. But, despite how much he ranted and raved about hating the school and the system, Jamison enjoyed what it allowed him to do. There were creative outlets- and, though he disrupted classes quite a lot- the subjects in which he excelled in, the teachers loved him for. There was an unspoken appreciation for Jamison’s attitude in certain classes- keyword, certain- and that was part of why he’d never been suspended.

Second was, of course, his situation. Teachers listened to a lot more than students did. His particular favorite was the english teacher- who for some ungodly reason accepted his chicken-scratch handwriting and self-indulgent assignments. Every time consulting with other teachers to actually read his work, and appreciating how Jamison, to quote him directly, “could put thoughts to paper, even if it wasn’t really the subject material.” A lot of his stunts were pulled inside of a classroom, and teachers slid him under the radar nearly every time. No matter how mad they would get, the leniency for his deviants won out in the end. He’d only been apprehended by a school official who cared to “turn him in”- as he called it- once or twice. Which hadn’t warranted suspension, but he was getting pretty close to running out of warnings.

His friends were forever tolerant as well, it’d become a cycle of sorts- staying mainly with Amelie and Moira. Who, as weird as they were, had families who didn’t bother to ask too many questions when a scrawny blonde Aussie showed up on their doorstep. Others included were Reyes, (first name Gabriel, but had always gone by his last name) Lena, and on rare occasion Brigitte- who’s father only allowed him in the house for his engineering skill. A mutual respect sort of thing- but, Jamison was normally kicked out again after a few days.

He’d gotten around to all sorts of cliques in the school, a jack of all trades, the catch was not everyone within those groups could stand him. That select few had tolerance for Jamison, although no one could believe it, he’d formed pretty decent bonds with nearly each stereotypical highschool group. (The ones exempt from this were the acclaimed “popular” kids. Amelie was technically part of this possie, but never considered herself to actually be included. She actively denied any involvement, as if it were embarrassing.)

Speaking of connections, a familiar eager hand was tapping his shoulder.

“Jamie! Haven’t seen you around lately, luv.”

He’d say Lena was short, if he wasn’t so abnormally tall. She had to rock on her heels to reach his shoulder to begin with, though the difference never seemed to bother her. Lena was a force to be reckoned with, she was on every single sport team. Every. Single. One. Football? Field hockey? Swimming? Even Ultimate Frisbee. Lena was there, front and center, with her jersey always numbered 26. It was no surprise that she was getting into whatever college or university she wanted to attend, the amount of scholarships she had was almost exhausting. Jamison would’ve been jealous, but there was nothing much he could do with sports. Not when his arm seemed to be constantly broken- and, well, he was missing a leg. A little more than half of his right, to be precise.

“You ‘aven’t been looking hard ‘nough then.”

Brief laughter was exchanged, the lunch line shuffled forwards, and the cafeteria’s noise would’ve drowned out their conversation if either one of them knew how to talk quieter.

“I have been real busy with everything, every coach wants something more outta me, as if I'm not the best of the best on the field every time!”

“Too right. Dunno what they’d even be able ta’ squeeze out of ya, mate. Stress that comes with being tha’ best, huh?”

The line advances, and Jamison and Lena manage to dip into the small area where you’d pick up whatever food you actually wanted. It was a weird way to run things, as Lena had commented that it was nothing like school back in London, Jamison could only agree. But, it was connected to the massive kitchen the senior students used.

“You good for coins and all that, luv? Still at Amelie’s place?”

His good arm slings the large backpack over his shoulder, and struggles a bit to open the pouch containing his wallet- there was bound to be loose change in there. He only needed a few more dollars for what he was getting- and seriously did not feel like getting his card out. Work had been picking up, since it was getting close to summer he could work practically daily again- until then, though, he was stuck budgeting everything.

“I’m good. Well, ‘cept for Amelie lettin’ me stay. Her folks finally got tired of ol’ Jamison again! ‘ppreciate ‘em, though. Was there for a lil’ over a week, miracle they ever let me stay that long.”

“You know, I never took Amelie as the type for having lenient parents. She’s always so, y’know, stiff.” Lena pauses whilst selecting her drink- a tuna sandwich already in her hand while Jamison reaches over her for a bottle of gatorade. “But, on the bright side, you can stay with me this weekend! My folks are going up the mountain, taking a little break and trusting me with the house. You’ll be in and out, they won’t know you even came over. Leaves room for me asking next week too, if no one’s open for you, James.”

It was a little demeaning, admittedly, how Lena doited over his every move when it came to housing. He had spent several days without someone to stay with before, and didn’t mind doing it again. Shelters were fine, the only problem was the closest youth shelter was two bus rides away from the school, and with a broken arm Jamison couldn’t really drive. He had a license, surprising for most people who knew him, but was stuck without 1) a car and 2) a working second limb.

“Sounds great, Lena. They leavin’ today? Or preparing t’day an’ ditching tha’ place tomorrow?”

“They scurried out this morning, something about getting up there early for a head start on skiing and relaxation. I don’t see how waking up earlier is more relaxing, but works out for us, yea?”
“Sure does, mate. Cheers. I’ll meet you outside the gym- know you have a soccer game today.” Jamison lets his coins rattle on the register’s flat front surface before waving to Lena and turning to walk out, Gatorade in hand, going over the mental checklist of any classes he needed to check in with. Considering how close it was to those summer months, most teachers were tired of marking, and assignments were slowing down with the exception of the end-of-year type stuff. Everything was aces, with the exception of that biology essay he needed to write. Even if a trip to the library was in order, he headed to the end of the school and out the back door- the standard meeting spot for both Reyes and Amelie.

As soon as he turns the corner, heads under black hoodies look up, then downward again as the confirmation of it just being Jamison was cleared. There was a subset of the school where students who smoked always went during lunch break- a “smoke pit” that almost every school in the area had. Right across the drive-in to the parking lot, an area that was technically off school grounds was a safe haven for anyone and everyone who smoked. Jamison was one of those unlucky students that’d gotten into it during the younger grades. As much as he hated the habit, he was too many years in to quit outright. And, thanks to his height and appearance, buying them without being ID’d was the easiest thing in the world. (A nice way to make money on the side, desperate teens would come to him for smokes, and who was Jamison to deny a customer?)

“Sorry they threw you out again, Jamison.”

Amelie speaks in a monotone almost every time they interacted, with the exception of when Jamison was staying over. He’d heard her laugh maybe five collective times during their friendship that started in the beginning of highschool, and every time was a magical experience. He never thought the cold-faced Amelie had it in her, but had been proven wrong on multiple occasions.

“Naw, nothin’ ta’ worry about darl’. Could sense they were gettin’ exhausted with me, I got ways fa’ pickin’ up on tha’, “too much Jamie” scale nowadays. Lena’s lettin’ me stay tha’ weekend.”

Reyes snorts, his folks were always a little overwhelmed when it came to Jamison. He had good hearted parents, both moms had raised three boys and one older sister- who was already in college and had moved out. To add another teen with a mountain of issues on their couch was a little much of Jamison to ask for consistently, and only showed up when Reyes offered. Speaking of Reyes, Jamison eyed the new kid standing awkwardly near him, a goofy looking cowboy hat shading his eyes.

“Who’s this? What’s with tha’ hat. Looks ridiculous-”

Before Jamison can let his mouth get the better of him, Reyes waves a hand to shut him up, along with an explanation.

“This is Jesse. Long story short, ma’ knows his mom, so I have to hang out with him.”

Amelie nods, seemingly already in agreement with the arrangement of a new addition, and no other complaints from the usual smoke pit visitors leave Jamison satisfied. Doesn’t mean he won’t strike up conversation, though.

Jesse. I knew’a bloke named Jesse! Real nutcase. Blew his fingers off this one Halloween- thought holdin’ a firework would be a real fine idea. You ever do somethin’ like that, Jesse number two?”

“...Number two?”

“Yea. Can’t disrespect tha’ original. I’m sure an up-standin’ guy like you understands, y’know?”

Reyes let out a chuckle, messing with his lighter while Jamison took control of 90% of the conversation- only allowing quick answers out of Jesse, who was clearly a little intimidated and confused. The basics of where he was from, what he was like, cats or dogs- the essentials according to Jamison. Zodiac signs were important, he insisted to Amelie, so what if I don’t know anything about them? Still need to know who’s who. The banter continued on until the bell sounded again, and Jamison could come to the conclusion that Jesse was an alright guy. He looked pretty clean-cut, and it was surprising that he smoked- but, hey, Jamison never truly judged any books by their covers.

Goodbye’s and see-you’s were exchanged as everyone headed off to their respective classes- it seemed they could never score after-lunch classes together. Everyone’s interests were different, Amelie had taken up sewing, Reyes was in geography and Jamison had a trip to the Biology classroom. Now, Jamison was a decent biology student, even if he preferred tearing animals apart to learning about how they functioned or lived- the mushroom unit had been particularly exciting. And if by exciting he meant unbelievably dull, then, it was the holy fucking grail of units.

At least the teacher was nice, she was an aged woman with a kind face. She’d been particularly nice to Jamison, and according to Amelie she gravitated towards the misfits in the school. Along with her constant support of his participation in class, they’d shared a particularly heartfelt moment when he officially “came out” as trans. His name on the attendance had changed, the teachers referred to him as Jamison, his work name-tags had changed, and Mrs. Orisa had taken the time to pull him aside and express how proud she was. It takes a lot for someone to figure out who they are, she’d told him, if you ever need anything, let me know.

It sealed the deal on his enjoyment in class, as he walked in he flashed Mrs. Orisa a grin that she returned with a welcoming smile- he was seated at the front row of tables in the classroom. It was more of a lab, complete with sinks and gas tubes for whenever they were experimenting. The projector was in the front of the classroom, and Jamison, despite being up front, normally sat alone. No one wanted to be around the one who somehow blew up his specimen on “dissecting a squid” day for whatever reason. Most times, if the assignment called for a partner, Mrs. Orisa would move some poor kid over to work with him- and, in the end, Jamison snatched the work away and finished it on his own. It was a win-win for both parties.

This time around, however, somewhere new was there.

Two new faces in one day? Showing up a couple months before the school year ended was weird enough, but by some miracle, the new guy hadn’t heard of his infamy within the classroom. Either that, or he was convinced he could survive the wrath of Jamison … “wrath” was really his constant need to talk to whoever was seated next to him. By the looks of it, the guy wasn’t much of a talker.

The one attribute that hit Jamison when he made eye contact was the word big. Big hands, face, body- even if it was buried under an equally big sweater- who wore sweaters in June? Aside from Reyes and, well, most smoke pit kids- wait, he was getting distracted. Introductions were Jamison’s specialty, his quick way to either make someone never speak to him again, or be a life-long friend. His success rate with the latter was hardly important.

“G’day! Made a fine choice sittin’ up front, y’know. Means I get ta’ take a jab at’cha. I’m Jamison- Jamie- James- whatever sounds best ta’ you.”

He was met with a wall of silence and that blank stare while Jamison scrambled into his seat after dropping his heavy bag on the classroom’s floor. The guy crossed his arms on the table, letting one too many beats pass before responding.

“Mako.”

“Uh. Like, ya name’s Mako?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool! Cool.”

How awkward the exchange was could’ve been considered suffocating. Or, at least, Jamison was feeling exactly that. He hadn’t met any brick walls in his time at the highschool, sure, not everyone enjoyed how talkative he was- but, to stand in the face of his blabbering instead of moving on was quite the skilled accomplishment. He would’ve been impressed if his heart rate hadn’t spiked for whatever god awful reason- was “Mako” that scary? No. Maybe passing on lunch just hadn’t been a good idea.

“Good afternoon, class! I’m sure everyone’s lunch break was up to par- I heard there was macaroni and cheese today.”

And with Mrs. Orisa’s standard start-of-class conversations, Jamison let the one-sided talk with Mako die out. Speaking up- without putting his hand up- whenever questions were asked from Mrs. Orisa, it was more of a discussion class for what they’d learned that year to make sure their Biology essays were top-notch. Mrs. Orisa apparently “couldn’t wait” to read what the students were writing up, as you could pick anything from a subject they’d learned about throughout the entirety of the school year. When the discussion was dismissed, and the last half of the class was dedicated to quiet study and writing, Mako was staring at Jamison again.

For some reason, Jamison was fidgeting.

“You an Aussie?”

Well, that was surprising.

“Naw. Jus’ thought I’d copy tha’ speech an’ mannerisms since day one. I’m plannin’ on a long-con here, don’t screw it up fa’ me.” The last bit was whispered comically, hopefully Mako would pick up on his joking- even if there was absolutely no change in his demeanor.

“...”

“Christ. Yea, I’m from tha’ land down under, an’ all that. What’cha askin’ for, mate?”

“Nothing. Just wondered cause of your accent.”

Of course he’d noticed Jamison’s accent- he’d been spewing input to the “class discussion” for around forty-five minutes. Did Mako really not pick-up on it? Or, did he just feel the need for clarification? … What a weird guy.

Luckily, Jamison’s thought process was interrupted by the bell again. Mako had turned to collect his things, and Jamison wormed his way out of the classroom after waving to Mrs. Orisa. He was meeting Lena- even if he’d been sitting on bleachers until around five, it was better than sitting in a shelter the whole weekend. Lena actually had Netflix.

Chapter Text

Why was it getting cloudy in June. Jamison was digging his loose sweater out of his backpack- he only had one to his name. Winter was particularly difficult, and he normally found himself using one of Reyes’ thick black coats. For times like this, though, the tattered garment was enough to sustain him. It normally lasted until around late November, when either Reyes would toss a coat in his general direction, or Amelie would get tired of his shivering and pester Reyes to hand one over. Neither of them minded the hassle he provided, really, and one of these days he was going to buy an actual coat.

And a bigger backpack to carry it in.

After what seemed like an eternity, Lena shoved open the back doors to the gym as Jamison was struggling to pull the sweater over his bulky cast- which he succeeded with before looking upwards at her with his usual toothy smile. Someone else was trailing behind her, clearly not as entertained with the concept of the soccer game.

Mako.

The same brick wall that’d been so strange during Biology was following behind Lena. Talkative, up-beat and clingy Lena. Did Mako do any sports? No- he was new in school. The coaches were tough enough on new arrivals that it’d take months to get in on practice- let alone get on any teams. Despite the whirlwind of confusion Jamison was experiencing, Lena’s smile looked as if she had just the explanation whilst trotting up to the lost blonde.

“Jamie! Thanks a ton for waiting, didn’t think it’d cloud over on a day like today- weather app said we’d have clear skies until Tuesday. Talk about fake advertising-”

“Don’t think that means what’cha thinkin’ it means.”

“Aw, rubbish. Means whatever I want it to mean, luv.”

Mako stood as awkwardly as any human being could possibly stand, clearly not a part of the conversation at hand, but had nowhere else to be. After Jamison and Lena’s standard exchanges of what he had on him and where he was going to sleep when they walked up to the house- she turned to introduce Mako, despite Jamison having already met him in Biology.

“-annnd this is Mako,”

“We met.”

“You did?”

“Biology.”

“Ah, right! Didn’t tell me what classes you were put into. Well, Jamie, you already know Mako, huh?”

Jamison fiddles with the lace on his shoe, they were almost always untied- hard to do up with one hand anyway- stare being lazily tossed between Lena and Mako before speaking up.
“S’pose I do. Not much of a talker, are ya, mate? Felt tha’ weight’a ten thousand worlds on me shoulders try’na ‘ave a conversation with you!”

Mako gives nothing but a shrug in response, and Lena looks from one to the other before bursting out into her classic pippy laughter. Jamison quirked a brow. There was clearly a joke he wasn’t getting- a punchline he just so happened to miss. Because, by some miracle, Mako had broken into a smile for a split second. It was almost as magical as hearing Amelie laugh. Almost.

“Mako doesn’t like talking, Jamie! Not like you and me, he’s a little introvert of his own. Says what he wants when he wants- it just happens to not be a lot.”

“Weird.”

“C’mon.”

“Weird! You’re weird! Mate asked me if I was from ‘straya. Like, my devilishly good looks should’a gave it away from the start!”

Lena continued laughing, patting Jamison’s shoulder before he rose from his uncomfortable position on the bleachers to start heading in the direction of her house. Mako still didn’t say anything, but didn’t look particularly offended. He just trailed behind the two as conversation picked up, poking in with input once in a blue moon. Lena’s place was a fair walk upwards, but, with how much the two (three, if you included Mako’s casual comments) of them talked it never felt like a long trip.

“You see all tha’ new blokes that flooded in outta nowhere? Like’a fuckin’ swamp in there now. Bunch’a newbies sweatin’ bullets in the hallways- gross.”

“And we’re so close to summer break. You’d think they’d hold back until September again, huh? There’s new faces everywhere you look, kinda fun when you think about it.”

“Y’know- speakin’ of new people- how d’ya know Mako?”

Jamison tosses a look over his shoulder at the quiet big guy who's somewhat enamoured by the sidewalk, still listening, just not too keen on giving input at the moment.

“Emily introduced us last weekend, actually. Mako moved here recently and was doing homeschooling- right, luv?”

Mako nodded, looking up from the sidewalk to meet Jamison’s stare- which was immediately broken by Jamison- looking ahead again as if there were any obstacles in his way to begin with. It was a pretty empty suburban street.

“Emily knew him back in New Zealand, childhood pals and all that good stuff. So, I made it my priority to make Mako feel welcomed! His schedule did get delayed, but he's up a running now. And since Emily goes to that school near the station- she asked me to keep an eye on him.”

“You’re watchin’ her childhood friend an’ still haven’t asked tha’ sheila out yet.”

“Jamie!”

Lena let out an offended squeak, clutching the straps of her backpack and shooting him an annoyed glare. She wasn’t genuinely mad with him, Jamison grew to learn to tell the difference between temporary annoyance and Lena’s actual outbursts. Still, he heard Mako snort in the background, and Jamison couldn’t help but grin.

“What! I’ve been nothing but a top-notch wingman fa’ you, and you can’t get ‘round ta’ poppin’ tha’ question. Ridiculous.”

“You’re making it sound like we’re getting hitched.”

“Might as well be wit’ how much you talk ‘bout tha’ girl.”

Jabs back and fourth of one another’s love life which exchanged for the rest of the walk. Lena’s inability to take a hint had lead to her crushing hopelessly over Emily for what seemed like an eternity for Jamison, if he had silly feelings over anybody, well- he’d sooner be caught dead than confess anything, but, at least he wouldn’t live in denial.

Right?

Oh well. He didn’t have time to contemplate his confusing romantic life. Lena was already fiddling with her keys- a ring that had one too many things hanging off of it, Jamison was convinced that half of the keys didn’t even belong to her, and she just carried them around as collectables. Lena denied it every time he asked, but gave no incentive as to what they were actually for. The door of the two story house is swung open- Lena swerving inside to hang up her sweater on the coat hanger next to the door and tossed her keys into a small bowl on a drawer nearby. Jamison was a little less courteous, his backpack being dropped with a loud thump on the floor, propped up against the wall- shimmying aside to let Mako in; who slipped off his runners and kept the sweater on. Weird guy.

“Now I’m starved, the sandwiches we have at the Caf’ aren’t exactly top-notch. Knew I should’ve gotten the mac and cheese-”

Lena had already b-lined to the kitchen, which was essentially connected to the living room, with the exception of the change from carpet to tile flooring. Jamison was always a little amazed at how spacious the place was, somehow her family managed to keep it full of everything but empty at the same time. The same bowl of several fruit that was changed daily was positioned on the dining table- Lena had run into classes many times with nothing but an apple shoved half-way into her mouth. Fruit wasn’t on the dinner menu, though, and Jamison was already wandering into the kitchen behind her- opening the higher cupboards while Lena scavenged the fridge. Mako took a seat at the table to watch, not having much input in terms of what he preferred for dinner.

“Y’know, I could do tha’ cooking this time ‘round- master chief Jamison’s got it all in tha’ bag-”

“You’ve burnt nearly everything you cook, luv. I let you make cereal and that’s it.”

“Well, that’s a lil’ uncalled for. Jus’ cause I prefer food crispy dun’ mean nothing.”

Lena blows a raspberry before playfully shoving Jamison away from the stovetop, a box of mac and cheese was already out on the counter while she dug around for the right sized pot. Oh well, Jamison could take a hint- his cooking prowess wasn’t needed right now- and he was in need of a smoke break anyway. Never in the house, James, Lena constantly reminded him, if my folks started thinking I smoked, I’d be waist-deep in trouble.

“Gimme a tick, then. I’ll be back.” Lena quips some hum of agreement while shaking the packet of artificial cheese, and Jamison wanders back to where his backpack was positioned. Unzipping a side pocket for a box and lighter- the lighter was one of his prized possessions. It had it's own case and a glittery pattern, even if it was a gas station purchase Jamison loved it all the same. For some reason, he felt a stare burning into his back as he pushed open the door to light a cigarette- Lena was never judgmental. She wouldn’t resent him for the bad habit- as she never judged his other behaviors- was it Mako? What could a guy like that have against smoking? Give it a week, and Mako would probably be associating with the smoke pit kids anyway. There weren't many places where a big guy like that could fit in- not in a literal sense, he just looked … intimidating.

“He smokes?”

Lena peeks up from rummaging around in the cupboards again, the lower ones this time, and tosses a look at Mako over her shoulder- then to the closed door.

“Yeah. I can’t nag him much on stopping- he’s kind of stuck with it until his whole … everything improves, y’know? Wouldn’t want to tear an escape away from him. Dunno what he’d start doing without it.”

“That’s a bit extreme.”

“Everything about James is extreme, Mako.”

Mako gives no indication of agreement, and goes back to watching Lena keeping tabs on the water while it was coming to a boil- he’d offer to help if he wasn’t already aware that Lena would shush him and insist he was a guest. There was something interesting about Jamison, something Mako couldn’t quite put his finger on. He’d known plenty of teens that couch surfed- stayed in shelters- smoked- but Jamison was some sort of enigma. Maybe it was the gangly prosthetic leg? The cast? How his hair looked like a toaster had blown up just a little too close to him?

Whatever.

“Why’s he couch surfing?”

Lena doesn’t look back at him this time, focused entirely on her perfect mac and cheese making- it was sure to best the cafeteria’s food. “That’s something you ask him yourself, luv. But if you want a real answer you’re gonna have to squeeze it out of him- James loves to spin stories that aren’t really real.” The bubbling of the water fills the room that otherwise would’ve been silent, “Well, for the most part. He’s done some crazy things, y’know!”

“Like what.”

It was more a statement than a question, but before Lena can hype up her response- the door opens again and Jamison comes in coughing. Dragging his heel across the concrete outside before stepping in again. Stretching and hearing several small cracking sounds from his back, Jamison parades his way down the hall, seeming to be ignoring the way Mako continued staring.

Mako did have a bit of a staring problem.

“James-” Lena called down the hallway, “when ya done, help Mako pick somethin’ on the telly, yeah?”

The response was what Mako assumed to be a yes, but horrendously muffled and followed by another fit of coughing- before he could look up at Lena and ask about whatever the hell Jamison was doing, said Aussie hobbled out of the hallway looking exactly the same as before. The only difference was the bundled up piece of black fabric in his hands, that Lena became acutely interested in while stirring the pot of mac and cheese.

“When's the last time you washed that properly, luv?”

“Uh, y’know, Amelie’s place.”

Lena had already flicked the stove top off, stirring more while letting it cool down- turning a bit to face Jamison, who looked like a deer caught in headlights fiddling with the bundle in his hand. Both stood there, Lena giving him a tired, yet knowing look, and if Mako could practically sense the sweat radiating off of Jamison. (Clearly, the interaction involved something he wasn’t aware of.)

“Fiiine. Fine! I forgot ta’ do it over there- can you blame me? Washin’ binders is a hassle. I worked a ton of nights last week-”

Lena stops her stirring to put her hands on her hips, furrowing her brows at Jamison and his trail of excuses. There seemed to be nothing Jamison could say to sway her opinion, and after another handful of reasoning, Lena makes her way over to hand him the wooden spoon in exchange for the clumped up binder.

“You serve up dinner, I’m gonna get started on washing this for you.”

“Leeeena-”

“No complaining! You brought this upon yourself, James. Comin’ in here thinking I wouldn’t nag you was mistake number one.”

There was really no space for Jamison to argue, and Lena gets started down the hallway he came from- dipping in a different direction while Jamison turns to the stove. It was already made- and just had to be served, which couldn’t be that difficult, right? Wrong. He currently had one arm down for the count, and had to put the spoon down to get the bowls out; then was quizzically trying to figure out how to scoop without 1) spilling and 2) tipping over the pot at all. Apparently he’d been standing and thinking for too long, because Mako had risen from his seat and made his way over- shuffling Jamison aside to do it himself.

“Oi. I had that under control, y’know. Just had ta’ emotionally prepare myself-”

“Don’t worry about it.”

The exchange seemed to be left at that, Mako had already divided the portions well enough and moved the pot to the sink- leaving it with soap and water could be fine for now, and Jamison always volunteered to do dishes before leaving for night shifts. Lena had scurried back in the kitchen to grab her bowl and a fork, for some reason, she didn’t eat mac and cheese with a spoon, and insisted that eating at the couch was alright.

“What’cha wanna watch, guys? We have the world of film at our fingertips-”

“Ya mean you got Netflix, Lena.”

“Same thing! How about we let Mako choose?”

The talkative two looked to Mako, who was seated in a chair separate from the couch- Jamison was taking up a bit of space anyway, sitting cross-legged and Lena had been propped up against the armrest of the other side. Jamison’s watch history was comprised of either stupid action films, gritty serial killer documentaries, or “how-it’s-made” style series. Lena loved rom-coms, although she’d deny it to her grave, the same action films as Jamison, and anything sport-y. Mako was handed the remote and he paused before clicking around for documentaries.

Weirdly enough, it was nature related.

“Blue planet?”

Lena chirped, clearly intrigued, the imagery of sharks and whales had piqued a little bit of Jamison’s interest; but, he hadn’t considered Mako the type for … animal documentaries. Maybe the kind of tough guy with a soft heart that liked your average romance film, but, documentaries? He wasn’t about to ask any questions, and continued shoveling mac and cheese into his mouth as the room came to a unanimous agreement on watching a couple episodes. No harm done by trying something new.

The whole experience was actually rather enjoyable, and Mako had spoken up more than he had that whole day. Little tidbits of information about the animals- mainly sharks- were constantly popping up in conversation. At one particular point, an unfortunate baby penguin had gotten caught by a seal, and Lena’s response had been a horrified gasp and a loud “awww, no!” when the camera panned around the gore. Jamison, of course, had a sharp laughing fit, almost choking on his mac and cheese- as if the carcass of a penguin was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. If he had been paying more attention, he would’ve deciphered that the look Mako had given him wasn’t out of annoyance, but rather … a mixture of the former, and some form of tolerance.

When the clock struck around 7:30, though, Mako had to leave.

He gave a casual goodbye, Lena insisted on a high-five, and that he didn’t have to wash his dish or cutlery; and without another word Mako was out the door.

Silence while Lena flipped through more watching options filled the room.

“I dun’ think Mako likes me.”

Lena’s response was a snort, sliding her bowl onto the table of the living room while Jamison dug around in his pocket for his phone. (The screen had been cracked since he was first seen with it. He had a talent for breaking things.) To his knowledge he wasn’t working that weekend, but both places that had him hired had the habit of phoning him in whenever they wanted to. It was what came with working part-time and being a student, their assumption was any time after school was let out you were available, and if you were phoned in you were expected to show up. Jamison constantly exercised the fact he didn’t actually have to agree every time they phoned, and only picked up extra shifts if they were desperate or he wanted to make more that week.

“You never worry about folks liking you, James. What’s so scary about Mako’s opinion of you?”

“Well.” Jamison puts his phone down, “Cobber looks like he could snap me in half if he wanted to. I may be pretty stupid, Lena, but I ain’t tha’ stupid.”

She stops scrolling through film options to set the remote on the carpet floor, just within reach, leaning back against the arm rest and huffing a little, she needed quiet contemplation while Jamison continued talking.

“I mean, I can’t even tell what tha’ guy’s thinkin’. I can pick Amelie apart like she’s an open bloody book, y’see? An’ she’s as blank-faced as he is, so what’s the difference? I don’t want some bloke built like a brick shithouse ta’ be hatin’ me or anything- not yet, at least. Don’t want me beautiful face caved in.”

At that point, Lena was giggling at Jamison’s constant worries, even if they were a bit exaggerated. His rambling was something Lena always enjoyed, and to momentarily stop his blabbering, she shoves his arm a bit with her foot- causing the Aussie to snap his mouth shut and raise a brow.

“I know for a fact, luv, that Mako doesn’t hate you. He’s just a tough nut ta’ crack, yea?”

Jamison didn’t want to talk about Mako anymore.

“On another subject- did Moira show ta’ class t’day? Didn’t see her at lunch.”

“Home sick, I think. I’m surprised she doesn’t get sick more often- all the work she does in chemistry is bound to make her queasy! She’s the only one that gets away with bein’ that bad with safety. Aside from you, James.”

The friendly banter continued until Lena was yawning- she had early nights and even earlier days. Jamison had to shoo her upstairs before turning the T.V back on; and, instead of flicking to his regular gorey documentaries, he hovered Blue Planet again. Something about eventually dozing off to whatever the coral reefs were up to was a little bit more entertaining than rewatching some serial killers going wild for the millionth time.

He’d never admit it to Mako or Lena, though.

Chapter Text

The "staff room" was always boring during break. It was nothing more than a table in a plain office-looking back room with several chairs scattered everywhere- around the corner was the monthly schedules, that Jamison always snapped a picture of to keep for future reference when it came to plans. Working night shifts at the gas station was more interesting than washing dishes, but what other places were going to hire someone like him? He was surprised when work let him continue, admittedly with shorter shifts, when he’d broken his arm for the millionth time. While Jamison sat there, zoning out on his break, his cell phone vibrated on the table.

amelieee 🕷️ [7:34PM] : jamison
amelieee 🕷️ [7:34PM] : reyes is trying to make me see some hero film
amelieee 🕷️ [7:35PM] : help.

Funny. Reyes, for whatever reason, was addicted to superhero films. Even if most times he cheered on the villains, he was acutely aware of the “lore” of the universes the films took place in. And, at any opportunity he got, he was dragging friends to go see the newest additions to the story lines.

you [7:36PM] : no can do!!!!!
you [7:36PM] : im at wwork
you [7:37PM] : dishesss 🐭
amelieee 🕷️ [7:38PM] : curse your ability to hold jobs.
amelieee 🕷️ [7:38PM] : i’m going into the theatre
amelieee 🕷️ [7:39PM] : pray for me. 😬

The rest of the shift was a blur- it almost always was, especially on a Saturday. But the moment Jamison was off the clock he was practically running out the door. Lena had to have been finishing up her really late Lacrosse practice by now, they’d go a snack run and head back to her place. On his way to the bus station, Jamison pulls out his phone again to more notifications from Amelie- probably complaining about how bad the film was, and how mean Reyes was to make her come. Apparently he’d dragged the new Jesse to see it as well, who had more or less been in agreement. Poor Amelie.

you [10:11PM] : LENA
you [10:12PM] : r u done lacross
you [10:12PM] : im going 2 the store even if ur not done
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [10:14PM] : yes!! im finished!!
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [10:14PM] : bus is running late :(!
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [10:15PM] : you okay to pick some stuff up love??
you [10:16] : will do coach
you [10:16] : on the bus rn anyways what do u want 🐭

The snack list was exchanged, Lena promised to pay him back as soon as he was back at her place- Lena was one of the few friends he had who insisted on paying him back. Jamison had a tendency to come across as greedy, but never pestered anyone about money back- unless it was some freshman who owed him for something only he could get for them. In that case, his intimidation alone could normally shake the money out of some unsuspecting kid.

jock oxton 🏆🥇 [10:39PM] : did you find everything okay??
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [10:40PM] : I FORGOT TO TELL YOU TO GET CHEEZ ITS !
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [10:40PM] : asjhaskahgjks

One store-trip later, Jamison was wandering into Lena’s place again- she’d given him the spare key for the weekend, and Jamison had to constantly remind himself not to misplace it. The plastic bag was lazily put on the counter, his list had been mainly snacks; chips, chocolate bars, soda cans- anything and everything that Lena’s fitness-family didn’t like having around the house often. Lena’s head popped up from behind the couch before she scrambled over to open the bag- pulling out a chocolate bar almost immediately. She looked starved of all sugar, and patted Jamison on the back.

“Aww, I owe you one, James-” She was speaking between mouthfuls of chocolate. “I can’t advocate for keeping sweets around the house, y’know. Sucks having health-nut parents.”

“You could always take up my style’a livin’- parentless an’ free’a worry.”

“You’re constantly worried, luv. And I’m constantly worried for you!”

Jamison reaches for his own can of soda, not particularly hungry at 11pm, and follows Lena over to the living room again. They were going to marathon some silly movies, and probably end up passed out on the couch. Sundays were Lena and Jamison’s safe haven- Lena had no sports scheduled and Jamison normally didn’t have to work. The two had hung out on more Sundays than Jamison could count, even if at least half of those had been him third-wheeling for Lena and Emily … third-wheeling for a couple that wasn’t even “officially” together. There were a few couples like that at school.

“What are you gonna do for senior year?” Lena flips the T.V on again, not really paying attention to what she was flipping through, they had a list- and could watch whatever was on it in whatever order they chose. It was an open-ended question, one that hardly anyone in their grade could answer, even jokingly. The deadline of highschool being over was steadily approaching, and Jamison would be lying if he indicated he didn’t sense the similar fears of nearly every student there.

“I dunno.”

The shared quiet was enough to reveal that Lena wasn’t sure either. She loved sports of all kinds, but was never sure what she wanted to stick with as a career. Sports were a life-long commitment in her eyes, and whatever she chose she’d be doing until she could play it no more … or at least, that’s what her parents had drilled into her head since day one. The Oxton’s were nice people, but very achievement-driven. Lena had admitted on a few occasions that it was stressful to stay up-to-par with her parent’s expectations, but always seemed to knock it out of the ballpark. Literally.

“We should set you up with someone!”

Lena had already clicked play on some film with guns and explosives in the preview.

“Hm. No.”

“You’re no fun, James. If you put yourself out there, you might someone you really like-”

All Jamison had to do to cut her off was noisily crack open his can of soda, shoot Lena a look and a smug grin. “Ya sayin’ that, but you’ve been chasin’ after Emily since tha’ dinos went extinct an’ haven’t gotten anywhere.”

Almost as if on cue, he was hit in the face with a couch pillow, and Lena started laughing- his soda wasn’t spilled, luckily, and Jamison retaliated by putting it down on the table and shoving the pillow back in Lena’s face. With the cheesy action music from the movie in the background, the two wrestled until Jamison was half shoved off the couch- spindly legs flailed helplessly until he managed to roll onto the floor completely. Lena relished in her victory, hollering as loud as she could this late without disturbing the neighbourhood, and Jamison was content lying lifeless on the floor.

“Real talk, you ask Emily out, an’ I’ll try ta’ start seein’ someone.”

“Bet.”

“Good ta’ know I ‘ave a million years of tha’ single life ta’ enjoy ‘fore I gotta worry about anything.”

While their arguing and occasional commentary on the movie continued, Jamison’s phone was vibrating on the table. All he knew was that it wasn’t work, therefore it could wait until tomorrow to be checked on.

o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:41PM] : Jamison? Apologies for texting so late.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:42PM] : I heard you needed help with a Biology essay.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:42PM] : Well, okay, not “help.”
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:43PM] : I know you hate it when I call assistance “help.”
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:44PM] : But if I’m functioning by Monday, you’re staying over for a few days to work on it.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:45PM] : This is not optional.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [11:45PM] : :). Hope you’re well.

As expected, the following morning was Jamison waking up dazed and confused on Lena’s floor- Lena herself still propped up on the couch, drool forming on one of the pillows. (Lena snored rather loud. Thankfully, when Jamison managed to fall asleep, he slept like a rock.) He’s blinking awake and raising his good hand against the sun that constantly filtered through the living room’s windows- for some god awful reason they never kept the blinds closed. Maybe he was just being grouchy first-thing in the morning … speaking of morning, his hand smacks the table a bit before finding his cellphone. Swiping the screen open and squinting, he starts texting Moira back while Lena yawns herself awake.

you [9:42AM] : wwhat the hell were udoing up at 11
you [9:43AM] : sick
you [9:43AM] : WEIRD!!!!!!!
you [9:45AM] : ill be over on monday meet u by the bio llab if ur ok
you [9:45AM] : need outline sheet from orisaaaaaaa 🐭

Again, his cracked cell phone got discarded to the table; apparently at some point yesterday he’d scavenged through the plastic bag of snacks and gotten them scattered on the table. Luckily, it gave him early access while shuffling to sit up right, Jamison starts shaking a mouth full of Goldfish Crackers into his mouth. Lena was already prodding at his shoulder to hand the small baggie over, rubbing her eye with her other hand- not used to that much sugar, and being up that late.

Jamison could never live the sport-driven lifestyle.

“Your cell’s going off like no tomorrow, James.”

He stretches, one arm reaching over his head before falling back into his lap, glaring at the open windows again, and ignoring the phone entirely. Lena continued snacking- it was obvious that neither of them wanted to put in the effort of making an actual breakfast, chances are Lena would invite someone over that she knew from practice, and they’d order food for everyone.

“S’just Moira. She texts in, like, paragraphs, mate. It’s crazy. Dunno how she does it- think I’d die if I had ta’ use proper … everythin’.”

“I don’t text her enough to know. Sounds fun!”
“Naw- naw, lookit this-”

o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:53AM] : Wonderful. I will be at Orisa’s at 3pm, then.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:54AM] : And if you must know what I was doing, it was more chemistry work. My paper had been destroyed in the fallout of my most recent experimentation.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:54AM] : It was a shame.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:55AM] : Angela was very mad with me.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:55AM] : Considering we’re technically partners for this project, even if I insist on doing more work.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:56AM] : Actually, I’ll complain about Angela later.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:57AM] : I’m going to the clinic.
o-deorain 🔬🔬 [9:57AM] : Talk to you Monday. Let’s hope I have nothing terminal. :).

The wall of text was enough to make Lena laugh with a mouthful of crackers, shaking the bits at the bottom of the bag into her mouth and snorting again. Moira sure had a way with words- the punctuated “:).” really made the whole conversation that much better. Jamison appreciated her, though- even if she was extremely strange. Not like he was one to talk.

“Amazing. I didn’t think one teen was capable of texting like a fifty-year old.”

“Ya should see the text size on her phone- she texts an’ reads like a grandma, Lena.”

Lena had already sprung up from the couch, stretching like she did in practice- christ, did she ever think about anything that wasn’t sports? Sliding comically on the tile of the kitchen in her colorful socks, the first thing she grabs is a banana from the constantly present bowl of fruit on the kitchen’s table. Then, selects an apple to toss in Jamison’s general direction- he doesn’t catch it, obviously. He’s got one arm and horrible hand-eye-coordination to match, but the carpet was soft enough that the fruit wasn’t harmed in the process.

“It’s healthy. You gotta eat somethin’ other than chocolate and crackers in the morning, James!”

“Ew. Ewwww. Nasty. Fruit’s nasty.”

“Your second binder should be dry by now- hanging on the gate near the washing machines … you should clean ‘em more often, y’know.”

Even if he insisted on hating leafy greens and their relatives, fruit, Jamison takes a massive bite out the apple- it would keep Lena from pestering him later on if they did order food. “I know, mum.” He manages to scoff out the response inbetween rounds of chewing, “Good thing I have two though, huh? If one bites tha’ dust I ‘ave a back-up.”

“I guess,” Lena leaned against the counter, digging her own cell phone out from the back pocket of the jeans she supposedly slept in. “but those are expensive! The centers can’t give them out for free often, James.” Instead of nagging further, Lena swipes her own phone screen open, there were a few unread messages from Angela and Genji, mostly questions about her recent games and schoolwork. They could be looked at later.

“You wanna invite Zarya over?”

“Tha’ russian one? She’s scary, mate. Not like, scary-scary, jus’ the type that’d use me in her weight trainin’.”

“That’s exactly why I brought her up.”

Evil.

Lena snickers at him and start tapping away on her cell, Zarya was friendly enough, and it’d been a hot minute since they’d hung out. Even if it seemed like seven days a week Zarya had dedicated her time to weightlifting, she allowed herself “off-days” every once in a while.

you [10:07AM] : zarya!!
you [10:07AM] : are you available today?
you [10:08AM] : me and jamie are having a stay-in day before monday :)!!
you [10:09AM] : would u like to join us? we can order pizzaaa :DD
Zarya ☆ [10:12AM] : yes. I am available to come over.
Zarya ☆ [10:13AM] : can I bring science girl?
you [10:13AM] : mei?? sure!!!!! mei can come!
you [10:14AM] : i’ll make sure jamie doesn’t pick a fight this time!! :P!!
Zarya ☆ [10:16AM] : thank you. we will be over at 11. 💪
you [10:16AM] : see u then zarya 💪!!!!!!

At that point, Jamison had risen from the floor, tugging at the tank-top he wore almost daily. His clothes consisted of the same pants, three tank tops of varying shades of black and grey, and one graphic t-shirt. (This wasn’t including his work uniform- washing dishes required one, while the nightshift at the gas station only needed him to wear a nametag.) Every once in a while he’d get away with something black out of Amelie’s wardrobe, whatever shirt she owned looked like a crop-top on him, but Jamison never minded. He always returned the shirts anyways, they were just a bit stretched after the fact.

“Now you, Mister Fawkes, are showering.

The word hit Jamison like a bullet- or a stab wound- or something of an equally shocking and painful value. He’d already slunk outside while Lena was texting to smoke, and was standing with his hand still on the door knob to close it behind him. Lena had her hands on her hips, phone still in one hand, and a steady stare focused on the Australian before her. Convincing Jamison to wash his clothes was one thing, it was normally some banter before he gave in, but showering was a whole new world. It was almost exactly like chasing after a screaming feline for an hour, one that bit and scratched the same way felines did, if not worse. Amelie, by some act of god, had always managed to get Jamison to shower when he stayed with her. Whether it was that cold, hardened stare that seemed to get him to do anything or not, Lena could never master such an art.

“Y’know, Lena, you’re one’a my best mates- we can, uh, discuss this. Yea?”

Lena took one step towards him, and Jamison had already begun comically screeching.

Cut to a half hour later, thankfully, considering the fact Zarya and Mei were supposed to show up soon, and Jamison was sulking on the couch with a mop of wet hair and a scowl. Lena, on the other hand, had snapped a picture and sent it to both Reyes and Amelie- captioned with “success!!!” as it had been quite a feat. Maybe the day prior of work and snack-shopping had significantly tired Jamison out- he didn’t put up his usual fight, and succumbed to Lena shoving him into the washroom at a rather peaceful pace. (Peaceful for Jamison, at least.)

“You look like a wet dog, luv.”

“I feel like a wet dog.”

Lena tosses a hand-towel to him, as if that’d help his almost-dripping hair any. “You smell a lot better, though. Perks come with being clean, James!”

“Perks … bunch’a bullshit perks. Y’know Amelie dun’ let me be gross in her house, could’a given a guy some leniency.”

Still, he lazily attempts at drying his already messy hair as best he can with what he’s given- it always ended up in the same position anyway, spiked and all over the place. It was almost like a signature part of his “look” as Amelie had commented forever ago. No one could get his hair to stay looking like anything other than crazy.

“Since you were so cooperative,” Lena hops from her seat on the couch as she hears a familiar, hearty knocking on the door. “I’ll let you order your god awful pineapple on pizza.”

That was all Jamison needed to seal the deal, as Lena opened the door to greet the two scheduled visitors.

Chapter Text

“You are surprisingly strong, little man.”

Jamison sure didn’t feel strong, seeing as Zarya had just mopped the floor with him in a three-round match of arm wrestling. (Lena had insisted Jamison make an attempt, at least.) Zarya was a mountain of a girl, reaching almost the same height as Jamison- and he had no qualms with boasting about his height advantages to the shorter people in his life. The difference between them was muscle mass, Jamison was lanky and underfed, whilst Zarya had an intense work-out regime that she never strayed from.

“Ah, Zarya is so cool …”

Mei, the one brought along with the Russian mountain, was already gushing over Zarya’s strength. She did this regularly, and Jamison was still baffled with how neither of them had picked up on how much they liked each other. (As stated earlier, there were several pairs of students that turned a blind eye to each other’s feelings for whatever reason.)

“You work out more often, you get strong, yes?”

“I’d rather be shot than caught workin’ out somewhere. S’not my style, mate.”

Zarya provided a loud laugh, and what would’ve been a pat on the back, had it not felt more like a shove. After being jutted forward like some sort of rag doll, Jamison shoots a look towards Lena- who was chatting with Mei and giggling a little over his loss. A loss anyone could have seen coming from a mile away. Regardless of this factor, Zarya puts a hand on his shoulder; Mei and Lena were caught up in some science-related discussion, his attention shifts back to her.

“I give you truth, Rat. You are strong.”

There was some strange inkling of honesty in her stare, although hardened and serious, Zarya clearly meant what she was saying. “You are stronger than me. I could not live your life.”

That caught him off guard. Zarya hadn’t liked him in earlier years, his laziness around gym classes and inability to participate- normally because of his disability- had resulted in an unspoken judgement from her. As his connections had resulted in them hanging out more and more, Zarya’s judgement eventually faded into respect. And she took respect very, very seriously.

She’d seen him at some low points, admittedly.

“Don’t get fuckin’ cheesy on me- I’m here for pizza an’ pizza alone. Dun’ need no strict talkin’ to from ya.”

The response was sharper than he intended, frowning with his words and breaking eye contact; thinking about his situation just made everything so much worse. He could take the issues with his parents to a legal level. He could get people involved. Teachers had reminded him that he had the right to be housed until he was eighteen. Problem was; Jamison wasn’t interested in living with people who still thought he was their daughter. That viewpoint was never going to change. He learned that the hard way- and had ended up being thrown out completely. No time to pack or register anything, just shoved out onto the doorstep with nothing but his backpack and wallet. Heartless bastards. Who would refuse to love their own kid?

Before he could get any more sentimental, there’s a knock at the door and Lena jumps from her seat to yell “pizza!” before snatching up the bills on the table and hurrying to the door. There was the basic exchanges, Lena insisted the delivery guy keep the change, and she was practically skipping back into the kitchen to set the two boxes down.

“Alright, we have the pepperoni for me and Zarya-” Lena opens the second box with a look of joking disgust, “annnd, Hawaiian for James and Mei.”

“Oi, dun’ gimmie that look. Pineapple’s healthy.”

Mei, despite her normal differences with Jamison, could agree with him that pineapple on pizza was 100% okay and acceptable. When they’d first made that agreement, it was terrifying. Making an agreement was scary enough, but on an opinion like that? Lena was still reeling from it, really. “Anyone want a plate?”

“I don’t want to get your carpet messy-”

“Aw, you worry too much Mei.”

“It- it would just be rude!”

There was laughter and chatter, mouthfuls of pizza and suggestions of games; Lena’s video game collection wasn’t exactly impressive. Again, a health-nut family meant her screen-time was restricted. But, she had plenty of board games … scratch that, an uncomfortable amount of board games. There were titles that Jamison had never heard of, and card games that he was sure were never played outside of Lena’s household. While the four of them discussed if they should play some strange looking one called, “Exploding Kittens”, which Jamison was very much in favor of- but what Zarya had said earlier was still swimming in the back of his mind.

You are stronger than me.

“You have your chemistry project done, right Lena?”

The conversation change had pulled Jamison out of it.

“Haaaa, funny you should ask, luv-”

“So that’s a no … ”

Lena was already looking pretty bashful; if Jamison knew she hadn’t done any schoolwork before he came over, he would have insisted more on Lena finishing something. Notes, at least.

“Didn’t tell lil’ ol’ me you had schoolwork.”

“I normally get to work with Angela! She likes doing most of it for me- but I got stuck working alone on this one. Y’know I’m just doing the class for credits.”

While schoolwork talk continued, they decided to save Exploding Kittens for another day; and opted for booting up the console and taking turns on some colorful platformer about climbing a mountain. With idle discussion and the sounds from the game taking over the room, Jamison pulled out his phone while leaning against the couch from his spot on the floor. Unread messages from Reyes, and an unsaved number were alerted on his screen.

fear the reaper 💀💀 [12:03PM] : next time youre coming with us to the movie
fear the reaper 💀💀 [12:04PM] : 🔫 i’ll pay for your ticket and shit
fear the reaper 💀💀 [12:04PM] : youve been out of amelie’s sight for like two days
fear the reaper 💀💀 [12:04PM] : and shes wanting to hang out again
fear the reaper 💀💀 [12:06PM] : also i gave jesse your number lol
you [12:14PM] : yoULL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE
you [12:15PM] : those movbies are DUMB CHEESE!!!! 💥💥

unknown [12:09PM] : 🐎💨
unknown [12:09PM] : This jamison? its jesse
you [12:16PM] : YEAH MATE
you [12:16PM] : wwhats with the horse
jesse two 🐎 [12:18PM] : I like horses.. theyre gentle giants
you [12:18PM] : watever u say jesse 2

“Hey James- you want a try?”

He looks up from his phone to the T.V screen, then to Lena, currently positioned in Zarya’s lap while fiddling with the controller.

“Love to. Problem is, I’m down a limb.”

Lena had a solution to his problem, and it was for him and Mei to share the controller and come to some sort of agreement on how to get through the sections of the level. It took some bickering and several do-overs until they … somewhat had a pace going. Jamison was still a little bit snippy, but Lena and Zarya found the exercise hilarious for some unknown reason. At one point, Jamison had purposefully moved his joystick off of a ledge, and Mei had let out the most offended gasp of that afternoon- he couldn’t help but be thrown into a giggling fit while Mei sat there and huffed. Something about Jamison being “too much of a troublemaker”, he couldn’t quite hear her over his own high-pitched laughter and Lena’s. Eventually, through trial and error, they got through the level. Even if it was only the first one, it was considered a success that even Mei applauded.

“You two could always try the second one-”

No.” Jamison and Mei said in unison, glad that they could come to that conclusion on the train wreck of their attempt. The combination of terrible teamwork, Mei’s unfamiliarity with video games, and Jamison’s need to control everything he got his hands on had resulted in nearly forty-five minutes of attempts. The controller was handed off to Lena again, who started up the second level.

“It was good team effort.”

At least the display had gotten Zarya’s stamp of approval.

“So, you haven’t done … any chemistry work, Lena? I can always try to help.” Mei was cleaning her glasses with the hem of her shirt; squinting at the screen a bit before rising from her spot next to Jamison on the floor to plop down onto the living room chair.

“Cheers, luv. But I haaaa-” Her sentence was cut off by a stressful set of jumps in the game, “-aaave it all under control. Yeah! Completely. But, y’know, if you have any starting ideas … wouldn’t mind being tossed a few.”

With that in mind, Zarya had already handed Mei her tote bag- a cute little thing decorated with what Mei called “Moomins.” Jamison had no idea what they were, and wasn’t interested in finding out. “I do have my rough draft in here if you needed inspiration.” A couple more seconds of rummaging and she pulled out a couple papers; decorated in English and Mandarin, highlighters of various colors and a couple sticky notes.

“I requested to do my report on climate, though. Mr. Kuiper was kind enough to let me stray off of the subject matter … ”

“Dun’ tha’ chemistry teacher like bein’ called Sigma?”

“It feels unprofessional to refer to him by a nickname.”

Lena pauses the level to glance over Mei’s papers, face scrunching up at her tiny handwriting; meanwhile, Zarya had picked up the controller and shifted Lena aside to have a try at the game. Jamison would’ve given his two cents on the chemistry project if he bothered to pick it up that year- Mr. Kuiper had insisted he was a “bright student” that only needed to “focus on safety in class” to succeed in the sciences. The science teachers did like him- Ms. Orisa, Mr. Winston and Mr. Kuiper were all for Jamison progressing somewhere in the realm of science.

He just wasn’t interested.

Sure, science sounded cool, but Jamison wanted to make things. Science to him was a lot of sitting around and watching things happen and figuring out why or how. There wasn’t any do-ing involved. Nothing to get his hands on.

If Jamison paid more attention in classes, he’d know that it was quite the opposite.

His classes, though, revolved around what was needed to graduate, and robotics. There wasn’t an “engineering” class, only robotics and metalwork- which was essentially the same thing. He’d taken metalwork since his first year of highschool, and robotics since 10th grade- when it became available as a class. The other classes that filled in the gaps were the standard math, english, history, science … and art. Jamison technically was in an art class.

He never showed up, though.

As far as Jamison was concerned, he handed in some bullshit art “project” once a term, and the pushover of an art teacher would pass him. Mr. Zenyatta was the biggest doormat of a teacher he’d ever met- Jamison didn’t even know why he was so hostile with him, maybe it was the fact that he never did anything about Jamison’s behavior. Jamison had knocked over expensive acrylics, blown up pottery work in the kiln, disrespected nearly every aspect of “art” and yet- Mr. Zenyatta had never retaliated. It pissed Jamison off to no end.

“So if I scribble up an essay, that should be good, yea?”

“I’d put some thought behind it Lena- your grade is pretty high, but this is twenty percent of your mark.”

Lena had flipped between the pages a couple times, scanning several add-on notes about paragraph placements and sources; while Zarya had already finished a number of levels- how’d she do that so quick?

“I’ll be fine! ‘Sides, I got you science geniuses to help me out if I need anything.”

“...plural? I thought you didn’t talk to Moira-”

Jamison immediately emitted an offended cry while Mei slapped her hands over her mouth, and Lena howled with laughter. Even Zarya was laughing with her, Mei’s face was flushed with embarrassment and a twinge of shame- her bluntness hadn’t been an intentional jab at Jamison, not like he cared; it was honestly pretty funny. There was probably muffled apologies behind her hands, one hand moving to wave in his general direction while he grinned.

“I get it- dumb ol’ Jamie’s got brain rot an’ all that-”

“No! Nooo! I never said that- you- you don’t have any brain problems-”

“Now that ain’t true. Ya overestimate me, mate.”

Mei whined, defeated in her entirety. “That’s not what I mean … ” While Lena had to stifle her laughter, she was holding out Mei’s papers for her to take back. They were handed back eventually, Mei just had to clear her throat and exhale- straightening out the skirt she was wearing in the process; a bit of a nervous habit she had, truth be told.

“Sorry, Jamison.”

“Dunno what you’re ‘pologizing for.”

Conversation continued, and the clock eventually hit 2pm, which was signified by Zarya’s phone alarm going off. Apparently she had a workout to get to, and Mei was tagging along for the “learning experience.” It took all the self restraint in the world for Jamison not to give Mei a look, considering she’d already been horribly embarrassed once that day, she probably wasn’t interested in his snide comments again.

“We’ll see you two sometime later, cheers!”

“Rat, you will come to gym for summer. You will get strong, get many men.”

The parting comment left Jamison choking on nothing but his own spit- Zarya and Mei were like a deadly pair of blunt interactions and reasoning. With how straightforward they were with everyone around them, they seemed to be in equal piles of denial when it came to each other. There was always senior year.

The quiet while the two of them dropped onto the couch again left an overwhelming sense of boredom.

“Would you kill me if I asked Emily out over text?”

“I’m pretty sure Emily would kill ya, not me.”

Even though Jamison wasn’t technically joking, Lena already had her phone out- her texts with Emily were on the screen, and Jamison’s brows raised. There was no way Lena was going to ask out her crush of three bloody years over text. It wasn’t going to happen, she’d type out a message, hover send, then delete it in a panic. (This had happened at too many times for Jamison to count. For some reason, Lena was incapable of asking, or even hinting at asking Emily out face-to-face.) But, her hovering of the send button was lasting a little longer than normal. And, he’d made that deal with her earlier, which was probably a contributing factor-

you [2:11PM] : emily!!! would you like to go out with me?

Jamison’s jaw dropped.

you [2:11PM] : IF YOUD WANT TO
you [2:12PM] : I GUESS

Lena had nearly flung her phone across the room- it’d landed on the living room chair, thank god, but she was pressing her face into her hands and rambling something that Jamison wasn’t bothering to hear. He was floored, it was done completely on stupid impulse, he knew that much. Lena had wanted to ask Emily at a decent time and place, he’d spent many nights over at her place listening to Lena rant and rave about how cool Emily was. And all that pining after was halted by one slip-up text.

“Well.”

Lena wasn’t responding.

“I mean, you did it. Emily’s been asked out, mate.”

Kill me.

While Lena was begging Jamison to end it all for her and the amount of embarrassment she was going through, the cellphone on the chair had vibrated. The two of them wouldn’t notice until around dinner time, when Jamison had to practically force Lena to check her messages- not only from Emily, but her parents. The Oxtons were scheduled to come home sometime during the school hours on Monday, and Jamison was going to be staying with somebody else after the fact. (That somebody being Moira.)

emily!!! 💕💞 [2:21PM] : go out?
emily!!! 💕💞 [2:22PM] : i thought you were busy with jamie today!
emily!!! 💕💞 [2:22PM] : OH
emily!!! 💕💞 [2:23PM] : on a date?? yes!!!!! i would love to!!
emily!!! 💕💞 [2:27PM] : should have asked sooner silly. 🤡

Chapter Text

Mako was experiencing a painful version of the standard, “Monday” sort of tired. Even if his weekend wasn’t eventful, aside from visiting Lena, (and, well, Jamison was there too.) he managed to destroy his sleep schedule almost every weekend. It could be considered a talent. He’d contemplated skipping and sitting at home- after all, it’s not like his attendance or grades mattered for this last month in a new highschool. But, Mako had stuck with the acclaimed “greater good,” and was now sitting in Chemistry, listening to two particular students bicker at each other.

The teacher had been forgiving, and allowed Mako to sit out of the end-of-year projects, but requested he just finished a short paper on something chemistry-related. Apparently it was commonplace for the teacher, Mr. Kuiper, to make compromises with the students of his classroom. “Compromises” was a bit of a stretch, it seemed more like he was nothing short of a complete pushover. Or, Mako was just being harsh.

“Moira, no-”

“Angela, the outcome will be perfectly stable, and is morally sound, per your ridiculous request.”

“You’re putting too much of the-”

Mako didn’t have the time to process what the two were doing before their large beakers had burst into shards of glass, and an orange liquid seeped onto the lab’s floor. The shorter, blonde had her hands over her face, mumbling something, while the ginger had just stood there in awe. Mr. Kuiper, and frankly the rest of the classroom, had heard the accident from across the room. One had immediately started wiping up the mess, and the other was furiously jotting down notes- despite the fact her sleeve was dripping with the liquid.

“Moira, Angela-”

“We’re so sorry Mr. Kuiper, we’ll clean it up right away-”

The pencil half-held in Mako’s hand was discarded for the lab counter he was seated at, and he made his way over to the mess. Taking the roll of paper towel the blonde was attempting to use in one hand, unrolling a handful and cleaning the counter- earning an immediate smile from her.

“Thank you, thank you- I’m so sorry- I know you’re new, you don’t have to clean any of this.”

He couldn’t care less, it wasn’t as if the half-page of notes (almost entirely copied from Wikipedia) needed his utmost attention at the moment. And, despite his demeanor, Mako didn’t mind making a few friends. However, before he could respond, the other student- who had just been scribbling notes, put a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m Moira, that is Angela. I have a few questions- you saw the beakers break, yes?”

“Please don’t ask him about it, we should just start over…”

Despite Angela’s protesting, Moira had seemingly tuned her out; they were lab partners, you’d think the two of them would get along better. Or, at least, be able to decide on whether or not to use their shattered work in their project. Even if they were confusion, Mako was suddenly in between the two halves, Moira discussing what he’d seen from the incident; “important” observations from change in color, to how the glass had broken. Meanwhile, Angela was chastising her during her clean-up- that Mako was still helping with, giving short answers to Moira while doing so. It was surprising that Mr. Kuiper had only given Moira a small reminder on lab safety, and trusted that Angela and Mako were alright with cleaning up right. Still, it was by far the most interesting Chemistry class Mako had been in.

“Now, Mako- right?”

“Yeah.”

“Mako, I’d love to continue discussing the properties of the results-”

“Our,” Angela mumbled over an armful of cleaning products.

“However,” Moira shot Angela a look, clutching her binder and writing pen. “I’m actually busy after classes. I have a friend coming over for the next week-”

Week? That was stupidly long. Who would let someone spend time in their house for that long, let alone to such an extent that they’d be considered “busy” with them in the process. It was like a sleepover that lasted way too long, to the point where the host obviously wanted no one there anymore. Who would-

Then it hit him. The image of a certain messy, wild-eyed Australian.

“Jamison?”

Moira seemed almost surprised at Mako’s interruption, even more so with the fact he’d hit the nail right on the head. Hence, her nodding and smile- Mako wasn’t sure if that smile was supposed to look as scary as it did.

“Jamison! My dear colleague in the sciences- I’m surprised you know him. He doesn’t do well with slow talkers.”

“...I’m not a slow talker.”

Angela suppressed a snort in the background; Moira, again, setting a hand on his shoulder, stared Mako down- that smile still plastered there, and she laughed for a couple seconds.

“Yes. Yes you are.”

At least she was honest.

“I was going under the assumption that you wouldn’t be interested in spending time around him. He’s, you know, loud. A little bit strange. But, again, it was just an assumption.”

He was loud. And he was more than a little bit strange. What Mako marveled most at wasn’t the fact Moira only considered Jamison to be a little bit out of place, but, his ability to have traveled to someone like her. She’d even referred to him as her colleague, and was letting him stay over for a week. Seven whole days. Clearly, that meant Jamison was an important enough person to her- even if her expression wasn’t much of an indicator as to whether or not she truly appreciated his presence. Mako could land a rough guess.

“Lena introduced us.”

“Lena? Oh, dear. She isn’t too fond of me, I don’t think.”

At that point, Angela had butted in, waiting for the bell’s obnoxious sound to come to a stop- signaling the break between classes, she flashed Mako a genuine grin.

“I know Lena. She’s very sweet! And she told me she had someone new for me to meet- I got too busy this weekend, though.”

That made a lot of sense at a base level, but that meant Jamison knew two people who … apparently didn’t like each other. (Again, it was hard to tell to what extent Moira meant anything she said.) Apparently he was making connections school-wide, Mako had noticed him last Friday- before Lena’s introduction. Standing around at the smoke pit- which Mako had to make note of, considering his asthma, he avoided every smoke pit at every school he’d been to. It was habit, really, the proximity wouldn’t throw him into an asthma attack or anything, it would’ve just been uncomfortable.

Besides, he didn’t like smoking to begin with.

“Cool.”

“So, Mako, I’ll cut to the chase- I’ll request that Mr. Kuiper puts you into our Chemistry group, if you assist me in the results of our most recent experimentation. That includes coming over today, and withstanding Jamison.” She paused. “Seeing as I’ve agreed to help him with an assignment, as well as house him until next week.”

“Moira- I don’t think we need to use that last one for our-”

“I’ve decided we will, as long as Mako agrees.”

Well, there were pros and cons to the situation. Cons; he’d have to sit around while Moira took the reigns of every Chemistry assignment for the next month or so, and wouldn’t be able to go straight home and nap. Pros … well, he wouldn’t have to do any chemistry work. And, he’d get to ask Jamison some questions he didn’t bring up last time they’d “hung out.”

“Sure.”

“Fantastic. You’ll meet me by the Biology classroom at the end of school, then. That’s where I’m meeting Jamison-” Moira had unzipped her backpack, which had been ungracefully discarded to the floor, and dropped her binder and pen inside. Rummaging in a front pocket, and pulling out a cellphone. It was nothing special, just pure black with a grey case.

“I’ll give you my phone number just in case.”

Angela, who was carefully stacking her papers, had waved for Mako’s attention, insisting she’d give hers as well- “in case he needed anything,” which was just the sort of gesture he was already beginning to anticipate from Angela.

Cool. He’d successfully made connections.

As Moira gave him a parting pat on the shoulder in the hallway, Angela had trotted in the opposite direction and was waving- only to be distracted by some green-haired boy while she wandered off to her next class. Mako flipped his left hand to check the classroom number he’d written there- there was only one more class until lunch, then, meeting at the Biology classroom. The school’s schedule was so weird, apparently it was “linear” instead of semester, which had confused him to no end in the beginning. Class rotated, and weeks rotated. Days 1 and 2, along with Weeks 1 and 2. Tomorrow he would’ve just … been in the biology classroom. Today, though, it looked like it was P.E that he’d sit out of after lunch.

Now, cut to Jamison, post-after-lunch-class, stumbling up the stairs to the biology classroom. He’d nearly forgotten that Moira had insisted upon him staying over, which he appreciated, but the short notice had gotten his brain all jumbled up.

Okay, that, and the fact that Amelie had shared an edible with him during their class before lunch.

It had kicked in near the end of his last class, and Jamison was about to waltz right out of the school until it hit him- and, the next thing he knew, he was scrambling in the direction of Ms. Orisa’s room. Wheezing the whole time- running in a binder wasn’t his strong suit. Finally, he turned the corner to the door to the classroom, Moira standing there, staring at her phone’s clock- and … Mako.

Mako was there. Staring. Jamison looked tired, sweaty, and uncomfortable. He always had eye drops to prevent his high from looking obvious, but the second his mouth opened, Moira could tell.

“Moiraaaaaa, my favourite science buddy.”

“Jamison.”

“Real sorry I showed up this late I- y’know. Y’know.”

Moira put her phone in her coat pocket, directed a look at Mako, and then back to Jamison. It wasn’t disappointment, just a mild annoyance that would fade by the time he’d squeezed into the classroom to grab his worksheet. “I don’t know, actually. Care to explain?”

“Y’know.” Jamison just repeated himself, shimmying past the two of them before rattling the door open- Ms. Orisa was there organizing papers and typing away on her PC. They exchanged how their days had gone, Ms. Orisa had directed him to the correct pile of worksheets he needed to snatch one from, and Jamison gave his usual goodbye before closing the door behind him.

“It is a Monday, and you are already baked.”

Moira stated this in her usual joking, yet monotone voice, and Mako only gave Jamison a confused look.

“He doesn’t look … high.”

At that, Jamison burst out laughing for a second, before his good hand was slapped over his mouth. He continued laughing, of course, just muffled and strained- his breathing wasn’t exactly top-notch, and what Mako had said was just so funny to him. Jamison had taken the guy to be the same sort of riff-raff that he and his primary group of friends were; but, after his lack of appearance at the smoke pit, and apparently empty knowledge on “looking high,” Jamison could determine that Mako was nowhere near his sort of crowd. Or, well, at least certain sides of it.

“Oh, he is. It doesn’t work like in movies, Mako.” Even Moira was chuckling a little, and had already started off towards the gym exit of the school. It was closest to the Biology classroom anyways.

“...What’s it like, then?”

Man, this guy was adorable. (Wait. No. Adorable was the wrong word. He was … tolerable? No. That was too mean.) Still, Jamison trails behind Moira, who was clearly enamored with her cellphone at the moment, while explaining to Mako the wonders of the world of drugs.

Well, wonders was a bit of an overstatement. Truth be told, Jamison was an infrequent user. He smoked cigarettes most often, obviously. But, all others were more of a one-off when hanging out with the right people sort of thing.

“Depends on tha’ person. Like, Lena tried it once, freaked her out so bad that she, like, jus’ got up- an’ was like, I gotta go ta’ sleep. An’ she did. Middle of Amelie’s kitchen.”

Mako snorted.

“I jus’ get spacey. Real relaxin’, y’know? S’like, uh, I ‘unno. Being tired without being tired. That sounds dumb-”

“I think I get it.”

He most definitely didn’t. Jamison could tell, but who was he to deny a man of his illusionary knowledge? Whatever Mako was content with, Jamison couldn’t care less. However, it was a little bit weird that he’d ended up hanging out with him for the second time- with a different host. String of coincidences, or something like that. Jamison wasn’t sure he could keep thinking about it. His head was hurting.

“Y’know what? Whatever floats your boat, mate.”

“You got it backwards.”

“I know. I know.”

While the chatter continued on their way to Moira’s place, with Moira’s occasional comments migrating into the conversation, Jamison’s phone was buzzing in his pocket.

jock oxton 🏆🥇 [3:41PM] : JAMES
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [3:41PM] : im meeting eMILY at the sushi place uptown TODAYYYYY
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [3:42PM] : i cant believe this is happening gjsdgsjghjsdg
jock oxton 🏆🥇 [3:45PM] : WISH ME LUCK WHEN YOU CAN!!!!!!!

While Jamison was wandering with Moira and Mako, Lena was making her way to what would be the “most successful date of a lifetime” the next time she was on the phone with Jamison. Until then, the trio had somehow gotten onto the topic of their schoolwork. With Jamison avoiding Moira’s inquiries, and Mako only butting in with suggestions every once in a while.

“I know you’ll still pass Biology without it, but you should hand it in. For clarity, Jamison.”

“You sound like my mum.”

Instead of chastising him further, Moira let out an exaggerated gasp, and lightly hit Jamison’s shoulder. Squinting, comically, and pointing a nail-tipped finger at the taller blonde.

“Don’t you compare me to that witch,”

“You kind of look like one.” Mako chimed in, only to have Jamison start howling again, and Moira chuckle along with it. Even if she was the kind that looked like she’d dissect you into little pieces if you insulted her, Moira was surprisingly humorous. It was quite the curve ball, actually. Even as the three walked up the steps to Moira’s house, Jamison was still snickering, it seemed incessant. Like he just couldn’t stop laughing.

Moira had pointed it out as being “obnoxious,” Mako didn’t mind at all.

After her fiddling with the keys was complete, the door swung open to a surprisingly clean hallway. Moira’s house was huge. Three stories- not including the basement- a massive kitchen, two T.V rooms, the list just went on and on. Jamison envied it, just a smidgen. Moira’s parents were both in the medical field of study, if Jamison remembered correctly Mrs. O’Dorian was a veterinarian. And, well, he’d never met Mr. O’Dorian. He’d only learned through Moira’s older brother- again, rarely seen in the house- that the two had gotten divorced.

Moira never brought it up, but didn’t seem to care.

However, with how spacious the place was, it allowed Jamison to stay for ages at a time. Mrs. O’Dorian came home late every day, and chatted with Jamison on a few accounts. She never minded his presence in the house, as long as he cleaned up after himself, everything seemed to be fine. Still, Jamison never overstayed his welcome. He could take a hint.

“Now, Jamison- if you’ll direct Mako to the study room, I have to feed my pets.”

“You have pets?”

Mako’s question was more blurted out than considered fully; although, with a house as big as this one, anything could be kept anywhere.

“I do. Two rabbits.” Moira hesitated, looking at Mako’s expression for any hint of change, “And, contrary to popular belief, I do not experiment on them.”

Jamison snorted. Moira shot him a look before continuing.

“If I need to test anything out, I use Jamison.”

His splutters of protest and denial caused Moira to smirk, and wave the two of them away before disappearing down the stairs to the first floor. Jamison huffed, nudged Mako and- after dropping his backpack again- paraded up the stairs to the third floor. Mako really had no choice but to follow behind him, even if he had a few questions about him being some sort of … lab rat for Moira. (That would explain why she let him stay so long.)

Regardless, they were headed in the direction of the study, and if Moira’s rabbit-feeding took a while, Mako could ask his questions.

Finally.

Mako detested being unaware of something- anything, really. Especially people. He wasn’t a “people person” by any means, and wasn’t interested in being one. But, everyone had an intrigue. Something that contrasted them either with or against the world- a world that was all sorts of fucked up in his own, humble opinion. Jamison stood out fairly well. Someone like that would have opinions on the world they were in, wouldn’t he?

“Dunno how I keep gettin’ stuck with you.”

The blonde’s stare was directed over his shoulder, the hallway was almost uncomfortably long. “Like a, I dunno, somethin’ that gets stuck ta’ you outta sheer coincidence..”

“Is that a bad thing?”

There was a little bit of silence as Jamison swerved into the room, pushing open the door and letting Mako continue to trail behind him. The place was huge for a “study,” with a table in the center and bookshelves on one side of the room. Desks against the walls were set up, with two laptops and a desktop in place. One of the aforementioned laptops had a sticky note with “DO NOT TOUCH” written on it in sharpie, Mako could only assume it belonged to Moira.

“Nah. Ain’t bad. Just weird.”

That settled it, then.