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 [ 18+ ] Youth is Wasted on the Young [ for Xander ]
Lar
 Posted: Jun 17 2015, 08:12 PM
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There is seldom a quiet moment in Allston School for Young Gentlemen. Generations of boys have become men here—in their education, yes, but also in the tiny alcoves where they've secreted away bottles of liquor; in the rough-blanketed cots where an occasional woman has done the rounds; in the moments where the rules are broken.

Of late, the rules have become more strictly enforced. The population of the school burgeons and bursts, so much that the beds are packed twelve to a room in strict symmetry, each with its writing desk tucked immediately to the left of the headboard and the boys' trunks at the foot of each bed—each with its large shining padlock to which the headmaster holds the keys. Each floor has its assigned mentor, its prefects, its pecking order.

Here, in the attic of Van Buren Hall, long since converted to a double-large barrack, Pearce presides. He is nearing the cusp of graduation, and perhaps the oldest of the lads at twenty-four. While there have been whispers of his delayed education being the result not of thoroughness, but of a slow wit, he is well enough liked and respected. Even now he fits among the crowd with his round boyish face and youthfully pink cheeks, and he is often quick to guide the hands of the younger residents when the homesickness spills into tears on their letters home.

It is his watchful eye that counts the boys this evening, in light of the recent disappearances—feckless boys gone off to join the navy, the school claims—and his hand that cracks the windows so crisp winter air can spill in to dry their ink. Midterms creep nearer, and with them come essays, research, and the dreaded reviews. Pearce himself is perched cross-legged in his bed, an old mustly tome spread open in his lap. He is momentarily engrossed.

And so, with the prefect distracted, the younger boys begin to pass a flask amongst themselves, until the sharp smell of alcohol and rising giggles bring Pearce back to attention. His amber eyes scan the room for contraband which has now been hidden away, but laid-back Pearce only sighs like an indulgent uncle.

"You best not let anyone catch you," he says to the room at large, but then lifts his own flask from the lip behind his writing desk.

"Cheers," Pearce announces, "To midterms."
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XANDER
 Posted: Jun 18 2015, 01:23 AM
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There are those who lead because of a certain composure and generosity of spirit, slow-witted or not; then there are those who lead because they are quicker, nimbler, and that much more inclined to trouble. There are wary leaders of frightened sheep, and then there is the swiftest wolf of the pack, the first to sink its teeth into the neck of the hind. Often times, the nature of the group is determined by the leader alone. Are they sheep, or are they wolves?

Such is the tale of young Aryn, his nineteenth year having just come 'round the bend that past July. Should his exams pass favorably, he hopes to escape Allston's and move onto university, where he will study who even knows what - as if it even matters. Aryn's father had been a gentleman of import who married a lady somewhat beneath his station; he had died when Aryn was six, leaving behind a notable sum to his widow and only son. Aryn was left with no fear of the future in the least, even if there are boys vanishing strangely these days. It is a very curious business, certainly, but he can scarcely imagine anything unfortunate affecting his own person. Certainly he is above the misfortune of joining the navy.

The wisp of winter wind flicks his dark auburn hair across his forehead; his hair is so dark as to look a very deep brown, until the sun shines upon his head and made it look as if it were burning. His brown eyes dart up from his group of lollygaggers, whose gazes have strayed from the pages and have begun to conspicuously track the flask disappearing up and down their sleeves. Aryn's group is a quieter few, more experienced in the art of deceiving the prefect and disguising their naughtiness. Drinking makes them twice as bored with studying. Worse, it makes Aryn restless.

His brown eyes flick over to Pearce, sitting at his desk. A moment later, he climbs from the bed where he and his cohorts are 'studying' and meanders over to the prefect, leaning over his shoulder and squinting at his book. "Hoping this is the last book you'll ever read?" There's virtually no one that Aryn is above ribbing, given that he himself is subject to jabs on his less than noble ancestry. What's a grown man like Pearce doing, still lounging around a place like this? Isn't he... tired of it yet?

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Lar
 Posted: Jun 23 2015, 11:47 AM
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Pearce looks back at Aryn with those selfsame hazel eyes that have gotten him labeled 'slow': the docile eyes of an ox, round and slow to blink. Hard to anger, too. In twenty-four years, Pearce—the middle child of a well-bred family whose name traces back centuries—has faced more than his share of ribbing from older brother and younger alike long before school showed him his measure in life. There is security in mediocrity and wealth together, and this is Pearce's close-kept security. No one can rob him of blue blood, nor of deep contentment with his place in life.

So he smiles at Aryn, easy and calm.

"Why—are you going to miss me?" Pearce says in his low voice, knowing it will rankle the other boy.

The tome in his lap is a collection of treatises on recent history, diplomacy, politics. Fields for ambitious men, for the fiercely opinionated—for the wolves that chase the sheep.

"I'll let you read it to me, if you'd rather," he says teasingly, laying the book aside. "Tell me a bedtime story, Aryn."
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XANDER
 Posted: Jun 27 2015, 01:46 AM
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"Like I would miss molasses on the bottoms of my boots." Leaning as close as he does, the smell of brandy lingers on Aryn's breath. It is true, Pearce's lackadaisical manner does irk him, especially when Aryn is very fit to be irked. His head is in no state to study; his hands are unsatisfied with their idleness. He reaches across Pearce and shuts his book, uncaring if he traps Pearce's hand on the open page.

The book is laid away, and Aryn 'tsk's in annoyance over nothing. "Aren't you a little old for stories?" Aryn pulls his mouth to one side, twitching the tip of his nose along with it. There's always been something a little strange about him. The rumor goes that it comes from his mother.

"I left a book downstairs in the parlor. I'm going to get it." There is the lilt of a challenge to his voice, balanced by the expectation that Pearce is not of the will or willpower to answer that challenge. They aren't supposed to leave the room after certain hours - especially not with these strange disappearances and runaways - but Aryn finds the room stuffy and dull, and hungers for a breath of fresh air. It seems he is always hungry for something.

So Pearce can let him go (possible), escort him (probable), or try to stop him (rather improbable). Aryn has enough manners and sense to pause, and see which way Pearce will go.
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Lar
 Posted: Jul 22 2015, 06:00 PM
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Aryn has the largest folly of young men: being painfully serious so as to appear older. Maturity laughs at itself. Of course the fatherless boy wouldn't know these things, and Pearce—well, what is a prefect if not an example?

"And aren't you young to be a cynic? Or," Pearce smirks, "Is that the brandy passing on its years?"

His book now put aside, he begins a different study—of human nature, maybe, or of the exacting details of Aryn's face. In spite of the sips from his flask, Pearce remains clear-eyed and settled. A challenge from the younger boy comes as no surprise, and Pearce welcomes it as he would an old friend. The blue-blooded families also run the greatest domiciles with the softest velvet sitting rooms whose walls keep confidence. This art Pearce has learned well.

"I daresay you're too good for the navy, but all the same..." He glances furtively around the room at his charges, who are mostly buried in drink and ink. "What say we go for a walk?" As if it were Pearce's idea to begin with.

"I wanted to talk to you, anyway."

He unfolds himself and sidles up to the door, listening for anyone passing outside—and the he is gone, down the narrow staircase with all the autority a prefect can muster. As if he is supposed to be out late, with Aryn under his wing.

"Where in the parlor did you leave your book?" he asks, voice low.
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