May 18, 2021 4:08 AM
esther and ivy meet the Stage
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Oh. Well. This is going to be slightly uncomfortable.

"I'm uh, also in room 6," slightly fake smile to show that he is also not overjoyed about this situation, uncomfortable looking at the mementos around them in order to not have to look at S's glare.

He is maybe also a tiny bit glad about this. He likes to observe people, and S is not his usual type of people.

The whole coming out thing might also have to happen sooner rather than later. Sigh. He can at least wait until they're inside their room.

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Well. That was unexpected. Her face splits in a broad grin of dubious provenance, and she opens the door for Zero to strip inside before her.

"In that case, welcome home!"

Fuck. She would have done this whole thing differently if she'd known that Zero was her roommate.

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He really does not know what to do with this reaction. He settles for an awkward smile back before stepping into the room.

It’s nicely furnished, with two beds on either side of the room and two desks pushed together in the middle. He sets his bag down on one, waits for Esther to come in, and decides that he needs to get the coming out over with now.

”So I should probably tell you that i’mnotagirl,” oh god he’s already given away the fact that he’s nervous but now he’s started so he has to keep going, “I know that’s kind of weird, I hope you’re still okay with me as your roommate, uh, it’s fine if you’re not, sorry.”

He will now look pointedly at his feet and wish that the window above the desks opened more than 5 inches out. He could use an escape here.

 

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She pretends not to hear.

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Oh. Okay. 

His face is burning and there’s a roaring in his ears and there’s only so long before he’s going to tear up.

He stands dumbly for a moment, knowing that nothing he could say here is going to sound the way he wants it to but he wishes he could say something, maybe how dare you or you’re the first person I’ve ever come out to or I thought you were maybe like me but that was stupid, I guess.

He says none of these things and instead turns back to where his bag sits on his bed, messing with the straps so he can do something other than stare at the floor.

Stupid. Of course that wasn’t going to go well. What was he thinking.

The next 4 years might be harder than he thought.

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Is he really not going to assert himself at all? It takes guts to come out to someone you've only just met, but that doesn't mean much if there's no followthrough. This won't do, her roommate reflects on her.

"Did you say something? You'll have to speak up, I wasn't paying attention."

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He turns. His eyes flash with anger, just a little. How dare she try and ignore him baring his soul and then force him to repeat it. He tenses and steels himself and the nervous expression he was wearing drops off his face. He’s found his courage somewhere.

”I’m trans. Deal with it.”

And he turns back to his bed before he can see anything of her reaction.

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Aww, he's mad now. Better, and also cute. She smiles internally, and keeps the same cool expression. No use in giving him a reaction, it'll just undercut the lesson.

"I knew that already. Any other revelations for me? I want to take a shower."

She picks up a towel and turns to head back out the door.

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He clenches his fists. He could hit her. He could.

He’s not going to though. He digs his fingernails into his palms and then, checking that she’s well out of the room, flings his bag across it. It lands with an unsatisfying thump near the door.

She’s so fucking smug about having just embarrassed him, and she already knew. She already knew and she forced him to say it.

He is trying very hard not to cry and only sort of succeeding. This fact is NOT helping him calm down. He wipes his face with a sleeve and grabs his towel from his bag and heads for the showers himself.

 

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She eyes him without turning her head. She should probably tread carefully, getting into a fight the first day only works to establish your place when you picked the fight yourself with the biggest person in the room. And when you're in prison. No sense in them both going to class with black eyes tomorrow.

Anyway, she didn't know, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Speaking of which...

"So, planning on peeking in the showers?"

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He stops dead in his tracks and sets down his towel on the bench next to him. He digs his nails into the flesh of his palms again, hard enough to leave marks. Good. He's already gotten angry and embarrassed himself once today, why not make it twice.

He turns, and doesn't speak for a moment. When he does, it's through clenched teeth.

"No, and fuck you for asking."

He's not going to throw the first punch in a fight. He will not hesitate to retaliate if one gets thrown his way right now though, when he feels utterly humiliated.

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He needs to learn to keep himself under control, or he'll never get anywhere at all. She decides that's a lesson for later though and steps into a shower booth, careful not to let anyone see her body before the stall door closes.

"So, when did you know?"

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What.

He’s still shaking a little, a combination of adrenaline and anger and the utter panic that he still feels when anyone says anything about his gender.

”Bit personal, don’t you think?” fake smile, step into shower stall, water on. He is so utterly done with today.

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She has to raise her voice a little over the sound of running water. "You started out with Romeo and Juliet, I think, but when did you know that you wanted this life? To be part of the Stage?"

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Can he disappear into the ground. Please. 

He rests his head against the tile. He still can't resist the urge to talk about the thing he loves.

"Must've been... 6 months after that? Don't remember timeline specifics but it was the first time I operated a spotlight for a show. I'd had only 2 hours to practice and I was horrible at it and I didn't know how to work my comms but- it was the best and most important thing I'd ever done. The house lights went down and I knew that I was never going to stop doing it. I couldn't if I tried. I stayed for hours after that first show, playing target practice with whatever I could find. It was something that was mine. The show was in my hands for once. "

His eyes have brightened, and they shutter a little once he finishes. He sighs. She's not being mean, at least.

"What about you?"

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Good to see that she didn't break him, it's far too early in the year for her roommate to have a breakdown and have to leave.

"I" used to be an actor "feel like I always knew i wanted to be" on "a part of plays. I was the" lead "soundboard operator in a production of A Christmas Carol. I felt way my heart thrilled as the whole thing came together, creating a story together, and I fell in love." At least that part's not a lie.

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He twists the water off and it slows to a trickle.

"It's wonderful, isn't it."

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She turns hers off and wraps up in a towel.

"Yeah."

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He fights the bizarre urge to apologize. He wants to do something but he's not sure what might break the tentative peace they're keeping right now. 

He settles for waiting for S while she finishes up instead of leaving to walk back without her. It's not much, but it's not like she's done all that much for him in the day that they've known each other.

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She pulls on a dressing gown and gathers her toiletries in a bag before stepping out of the cubicle, hair drying in a towel turban. She notices Zero waiting for her outside.

"You know, you don't have to drip on the floor on my account. You'll catch your death out here, let's get back to the room."

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That's not not nice. He walks with S back to the room. He's not exactly following this time, and the fact heartens him more than he thought it would.

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She dreams of gold buttons falling and green eyes staring. It's not a very restful night.

She wakes up early, stretching out in this unfamiliar bed before realizing where she is. She dons athletic shorts and a sports bra, moving quietly so as not to wake her roommate. As she steps out of the dorm and begins to jog along the sidewalk, she can see the city rousing around her. She stops for coffee at a cafe a few dozen blocks from the school, and admires the sunrise. Right now, she's not thinking about how resentful she feels about her rejection. She's just glad she's here at all, at this place she dreamed of for so long. She settles up, and then decides to take an buttery almond pastry in the shape of a frog with her. A little gift for her protégé.

By the time she's back, others are starting to stumble out of their rooms, milling about and readying themselves to meet the oncoming day. She makes some inane chatter with them (it always pays to know the local gossip), and slips back into room six.

"Zero. It's time to get up."

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He dreams he’s back at home. His father yells at him, brandishing a torn up letter- his mother sits in a corner, looking disappointed, she starts crying- S stands next to her, looking at him with contempt- his father backs him into a corner- 

He wakes up with a start. S is standing over him, holding some amazing-smelling pastry. He takes deep breaths until his heart beats at a normal pace again. 

The pastry looks like it might be for him. He risks a glance at her, and seeing as she doesn’t snatch her hand away, he assumes he can take it.

He gets out of bed before he peeks, so as to not drop crumbs, but he gasps a little when he does.

”It’s a frog and it’s for me,” he’s grinning now, “thank you so much.” If he was a little more uninhibited he might even hug her. It’s a frog-shaped pastry. 

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Probably for the best that he didn't try. They're not that close yet, she just wants some sugar in him so he can spend breakfast cozying up to his classmates. Zero needs some friends.

"It is," she allows, "try not to choke on it, you can always get another. It's 7:30, and we're wanted in first period by 8. Try and find someone interesting in the class to talk to, I'll do the same and we can catch each other up on break. Sound like a plan?"

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“...Yeah that sounds good. I’m not sure who I’ll find but, sure.”

He has not eaten his frog pastry yet. He is going to hold it carefully forever.

He should be able to find someone interesting. He found S and she’s ... interesting enough. 

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