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Sep 22, 2020 12:56 PM
'Chelledad helps Nova and Zevran
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It's late, and Aaren would really rather be anywhere than walking down the dark streets with his collar turned up against the damp drizzle trying to soak him through. 'Chelle isn't going to be happy with him, he'd said he'd call if he needed a lift (which he did), but when his text had gone unanswered, he assumed she was asleep. And she didn't get enough sleep, and a father worried.

But it left him out here in the damp, freezing air as the last vestiges of autumn gave up and let winter take over.

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There's sounds of struggle coming from the closest alley. 

A gravelly, adult voice, "Get the fuck away, boy!"

A younger, accented one, "Get away from him or I'll slit your miserable throat!"

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Another younger voice, scared, panicked. "Zev, no- Zev, please- I-"

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-Shit.

Aaren breaks into a run, heading straight into the alley, not willing to waste time-

He skids to a halt, trying to take in the scene before him.

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Two young boys, one darker skinned, are backed against the wall. The darker boy is brandishing a knife in one hand, pointed at a much older man holding up his pants, the other hand is braced across the other boy. 

"I paid for him!" The man spits.

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The boy's face twists with fury. He tugs money from the other boy's pocket and throws it at him. 

"Fuck off!"

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"Zev, we- needed-"

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Aaren pulls his glasses off and tucks them away.

"Hey," he snaps, body angled towards the older man. "I think you should leave, mate."

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Zevran's grip on Nova tightens.

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The man snarls. "I'm not going anywhere until this little shit gets that knife out of my face."

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...Bad move on the man's part. Aaren had been moving before he finished speaking, and delivers a sharp punch to his jaw before grabbing the arm not holding his pants up, and twisting it up behind his back, forcing him towards the alley entrance.

He leans in close enough to hiss in the man's ear. "I think the police would be more interested in the man trying to fuck the obviously underage kid."

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Nova clings to Zevran.

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Zevran curls his arm tighter around Nova in response, but does not take is eyes or his knife from the man.

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The man tries weakly to get out of Aaren's grip. "He- he said we was 18!"

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"I'm sure he did. I doubt you believed him."

He throws the man forward.

"Get out of here before I have to actually hurt you."

He's bulked himself up some, and he looks ready for a fight.

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The man trips over himself as he's pushed, gibbering angry excuses. He stands, vitirol on his lips, eyes on the discarded notes on the ground, before he catches sight of Aaren. He takes one experimental step forward, but quickly stops, scowls, and then stomps off into the night.

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Aaren watches him go, and then shifts, making himself smaller as he turns back to the two boys. He pauses and then ducks down to pick the notes that are furthest from the two boys. He holds them out. "Seeing as he isn't bothering to collect them, you may as well have them."

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Zevran says nothing, but backs Nova up towards the wall again, his knife now on Aaren.

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Aaren glances at the knife, and then sits down, ignoring the fact that the ground is damp. He places his hands on his knees.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he says, although he doesn't expect them to believe that. "I'm just...concerned."

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"We've heard that before." Zevran can very distinctly remember the last 'concerned well-wisher'. 

He thinks his pant leg still has a blood stain.

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"...I expect you have," Aaren says, sounding nothing so much as tired. (He's having flashes of 'Chelle's mother, all hard sharp edges, combative, scared and unwilling to trust.) He takes a breath, doesn't let it out in the sigh that wants to escape. "Do you have somewhere safe to go?" he asks.

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They don't. They were kicked out of the shelter not long ago, and Zevran had been trying to find enough money to get them a motel room somewhere, at least for a time. 

"We're fine," he says, though his heart is full of fear for Nova's well-being. 

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Nova shakes against him. "Zev-"

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...They don't then.

"...are you going to take this money?" he looks at it, doubts it's enough to get a room anywhere, let alone somewhere they'll be safe.

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He turns to look at Nova. He's still holding him, tightly as well, and that rankles with Zevran, knowing he's not allowed to touch, not allowed near. Can't let Nova for one second think he was anything like...like them.

The rain is freezing, and he doesn't know how long Nova has been out here. They're both soaked, and that means Nova will almost certainly get sick. Zevran doesn't have enough money for a doctor. He knows Nova's fire can't keep him warm all the time. 

He loosens his grip on Nova, but stays close. Keeping hold of the knife, he takes the money from Aaren. It's not much. 

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Nova makes a quiet sound as Zev loosens his grip, but doesn't actually complain.

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