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Jan 27, 2022 6:04 AM
meanwhile,
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Lianne has stopped going to clubs entirely. She needs to study, and when she's not studying she's hunting. She goes out with Kaylee when their schedules line up, but she gets closer with the other girls from the League - Alex, Sophia, and Taylor - and starts going on joint hunts with Sophia and sometimes Taylor, who live not too far. (Alex she solo hunts with once, taking the bus to meet her more-or-less in the middle. They're too far for frequent meetups, so they stay connected through social media).

She drifts away from her non-magical friends, though once she notices she has she starts trying to connect more. It's hard, though, talking around what she does with her time. She talks to her mom even less, though that's partially because her mom gets busier with hospital work.

It takes her a bit, but she does notice Kaylee being distressed. "Hey, you alright?" she asks one day.

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"Yeah," she says, unconvincingly.  "Just - no one knows about - magic stuff.  And it's so hard to talk to anyone who doesn't, they just think everything's okay, they just - worry about ordinary people things - and I have to keep it secret from them - "

She sighs.  "It's hard."

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Hug?

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Hug.  Nice long hug.

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"I've been getting some of that, too," she says quietly, "I hate lying. Hate it so much. And I haven't been doing clubs, so I'm not seeing as many people in person outside of lunch, and social media's a terrible substitute for just talking..."

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She nods.  "I haven't been going to clubs either.  It's just so hard to - scale myself down, to pretend the biggest thing on my mind is grades.  The school almost got attacked, and it might get attacked again, and we're the only people around who could deal with it.  And - my parents know something's up, I can't pretend to be okay well enough to fool them, I have to just - not talk about it, and keep not talking about it, while they worry, while they probably could help at least a little..."

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"That sounds rough. My mom's not really worrying at all, especially now that my grades are up."

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" - That sounds even worse, honestly, for them to not even notice..."

She puts an arm around Lianne, and rubs her shoulder.

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Lean. 

"I'm used to it, and it makes - everything - a lot easier. But yeah."

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Kaylee plants a gentle kiss on Lianne's head.  "It sounds - really tough - to me.  I want you to be okay."

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Small smile. "I will be."

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Squeeze.  "Good."

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Lean. Sigh. "I can't think of how to fix things with my friends, too. We just keep getting further and further apart..."

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"I know.  I think... we might not be able to.  This might just be - what it's like."

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"I don't want it to be like that."

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"Me either.  Someday we'll be able to go public, but..."

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"Yeah. Hopefully."

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Tobi has a target: Tag's pretty sure he's identified a small wanderer hopping between small towns.  Now, instead of winding her way across the southern states, she's taking a straight shot south through the wilderness to try to intercept the wanderer-witch in the most likely next small town.

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There's a woman, perhaps late teens or early twenties, running a search pattern when Tobi gets close. She isn't in costume, but has her soul gem out for dowsing; she closes her hand around it when she spots Tobi. 

"You here for a reason?" she asks the other girl.

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Tobi's not in costume either.  She thinks she saw a soul gem in the other girl's hand, but just in case - 

Her own soul gem is in its ring form; she slides it off and flips it like a coin.  If she can't see it's a soul gem it'll hopefully just look like an idle gesture.

"Just passing through."

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She pauses for a few moments, then briefly shows her soul gem clearly. "You got somewhere to stay?" she asks. "This's my territory, but it's pretty large. I don't mind others wandering in every now and then."

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"Appreciate it, but I'm in a hurry.  There's a witch headed for a small town near here - I guess it's probably yours, if this is your territory?  I'm hoping to intercept it before it gets there, or at least before it kills too many people."

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"What's the direction on that? I can probably move faster, I managed to get cheap flight, if you think it's an eminent problem."

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"It's a ways south of here.  I'll take any help that's on offer, I don't know how big it is."

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"Right. I'll call my friend, see about meeting up if it's too big for me to take safely."

She pulls out her cellphone, dials, informs the person on the other side of what Tobi passed on, then transforms in a shower of light. Her costume is reddish orange, like a fox's fur, and she has an ornate war fan on each hip.

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