Snowflake Day came sooner than anyone expected. While Eliza had hoped to spend the day with Greg, he felt that he should take advantage of people being off work and the plowed roads to hold a psychic convention. So, regretfully, Eliza kissed her husband goodbye. She decided to stay home and catch up on chores around the house while it was empty.
Exhausted from doing rapid circuits of the skating rink to keep her mind off her relationship issues, she stepped over towards the benches to take a rest. Halfway there, she heard someone calling her name. Turning, she saw one of the last people she'd expected to see.
Faye: "Lane? Oh my god, what are you doing back in town? I thought you'd gone up to Moonlight Falls."
Lane: "Yeah, I'm still living up there. But Locke and I travel around a lot, with his work. He could go by himself, but since my work is portable, I figure why not join him?"
Faye: "So he's working in Sunset Valley right now?"
Lane: "Yeah, the band he's a roadie for played a local simfest last night. He's still in the room sleeping off the afterparty, but I left to catch Dad's psychic convention thing."
Faye: "How was it?"
Lane hesitated for a long moment, clearly searching for the right words to describe the experience, before replying.
Lane: "Let's just say, interesting. And leave it at that."
Faye: "I bet. Oh, speaking of 'interesting' things. Lose the soulpatch."
Lane covered the offending facial hair with his hand, putting on an expression of mock offense.
Lane: "What? I spent weeks carefully growing that. It's not cool?"
Lane: "Not even a little bit?"
Faye: "Not even a little bit. Shave it off."
Lane made a show of sighing noisily, but he was still smiling.
Faye frowned, scuffing at the snow with her boot.
Lane: "That bad, huh? Want to talk about it, or...?"
Faye: "It's just stupid stuff. A lot of stupid stuff. A girl at school has the entire class angry at me, because she says I stole her boyfriend from her."
Lane: "Ah. Well, not to be insensitive here, but did you?"
Faye: "Kind of. It's not like how she says it was, though!"
Faye's frown deepened as she continued to study the snow at her feet. Lane watched her, nodding sympathetically.
Lane: "It probably wasn't. I see that a lot in articles that I copyedit. Everybody involved has a side of the story, and they rarely all match up nicely. Sometimes they aren't even lying, they just see the situation as being completely different than somebody else does."
Faye nodded, looking up at her brother.
Faye: "You're probably right. I don't even know exactly what Tyrone said to her when he broke it off. I really should break up with him, I just don't know how to do it. I'm not very good at awkward situations like this."
Lane: "Well I can't really help you there. You have to do this yourself."
Faye: "I know. It's kind of a shame that you don't let people around town know that you're, well, you know. You still are, aren't you?"
Lane: "Yeah. I'm just not really ready for that, you know? It's better up in Moonlight Falls, a few people know there. But what does that have to do with your boyfriend trouble?"
Faye: "Well, he might be afraid of you coming to eat him if he was a big jerk."
Despite her mood, she couldn't help but giggle at the thought of Lane eating somebody. Lane smirked, and opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by the sound of his ringtone. He held up a finger to Faye and slipped the phone out of his pocket, glancing at the name displayed on the screen.
Lane: "Ah, that's Locke, he must be awake. I've got to head back, pick up something to help with the hangover, the usual stuff. I'll call you later, alright?"
Lane: "And don't worry, it'll be okay in the end. Even if it doesn't feel like it right now."
He turned and walked off towards the bistro, answering his phone as he went. It didn't feel like everything would be okay to Faye, but somehow when Lane said it she almost believed it.
Back home, Eliza received a call from Crystal. Her daughter didn't call home as often as she wanted, and Eliza usually enjoyed the rare chance to hear Crystal's voice, but today the call was worrying rather than comforting. Crystal was upset, and wouldn't say why.
Crystal: "I just want to come home, Mom. I don't want to stay here anymore."
She sounded on the verge of crying, and Eliza wanted nothing more than to hug her daughter, but the distance made that impossible.
Eliza: "I wish you'd tell me what was wrong. The last time you called home you were doing well in class, and you loved it there. What changed?"
Crystal: "I can't...I can't tell you, I just need to leave. This week. I can't wait. I'll go to school in Sunset Valley, it's fine, really."
Eliza called Faye and let her know what was happening, and she diverted to the library instead of heading home. She located a PC in the "quiet conversation" section and logged in, attaching her webcam, microphone and earbuds before starting the chat client. Halfway around the world, Crystal was doing the same in her room.
Faye: "Crys! Mom called me, what's going on?"
Crystal: "You're in the library? Can they hear me?"
Faye: "No, I'm wearing earbuds. What's the matter? Are you in trouble?"
Crystal: "I'm not. Not yet, anyway."
Crystal glanced over her shoulder, checking that the door was shut, before continuing to talk quietly.
Crystal: "Be careful what you say. I don't want rumors going around, you know how things are."
Crystal: "Lissa's in trouble. She'll end up expelled, and then I'll be too, because I'm her roommate. They're super-strict here, and it doesn't matter what I was actually doing, only-"
Faye: "Woah, back up. What kind of trouble?"
Faye: "Woah, are you sure?"
Crystal: "Yeah. She was late one month, and I told her not to worry because it was probably just stress from exams, but she got a test from the store and checked anyway, and it was positive."
Faye: "They'll expel her for-"
She caught herself before she blurted it out, pausing for a moment to think of better words.
Faye: "That seems like she should have to talk to a counselor or something, not get expelled."
Crystal: "Like I said, they're super strict about their image here. She couldn't stay, and she broke enough rules to justify the expulsion. She was in the boys' dorms, after hours, and there was nectar at the party."
Faye: "What about, you know, the other person? It seems like the blame is a bit one-sided, here."
Crystal: "She doesn't know who it was. She doesn't actually remember it happening, apparently she drank a lot of nectar that night. She just woke up and she wasn't in her room, and she wasn't wearing her clothes. She's been really freaked out since that night, but now that she knows for sure she's even more of a wreck."
Crystal: "Because they won't just expel me, they'll write home to Mom and Dad what I was expelled for. So they'll think I was doing all those things, when really I wasn't. Not only would I not be able to be there for Lissa, but they'd never let me visit or even call, not if they thought she was a bad influence on me. But if I leave school before they find out and take action, then I could still at least be her friend."
Faye: "I think you're assuming the worst here."
Crystal: "Maybe, but I don't want to take the chance."
Faye: "Right. So let me see if I understand this. Right now, your school doesn't know anything, right?"
Crystal: "Right. Well, not that I know of."
Faye: "So, if the problem just sort of, well, went away, then things would be better. Right?"
Crystal: "I'm not following."
Faye: "Open up the chat window, I'll type it."
Faye: "I don't know if it's possible, but-"
Crystal: "I think it is. There's a clinic in town, and she has a good fake ID, so they wouldn't know she was underage. She could pass it off as a bad stomach bug, when she was recovering. I don't know if she'd want to, though."
Faye: "Right. But it's an option, and that's more than you had earlier, yeah?"
Crystal: "Definitely. I wasn't even thinking straight, I was just so panicked."
Faye: "I know. It's okay. Be there for her, alright? I'll tell Mom that you're sleeping on your decision to come home, so you and Lissa have some time to talk."
Crystal: "Thanks. I should go find her, she's probably in the toilets."
Faye: "Go. Let me know what I should tell Mom."
Crystal: "I will."
~ * ~
Phew. Put the warning at the top because the story took a wander through some potentially triggering territory. I'd hate to be responsible for upsetting somebody. It was a bit of a spoiler, but there really wasn't any other way to communicate that something existed in the post that might be problematic. Melissa's story is definitely ending up somewhat tragic. It's a shame too, because I like her as a character.
In happier news, we get to see Lane again! I did not give him that facial hair, SP did. And no, Lane, it's not cool. Not even a little bit. But yay for older brother advice. Now we just have to see if Faye'll take it.
And this is the Greg Woods trollface picture I posted on MTS yesterday. It's from near the end of generation 1 in play order, but contains no spoilers. Generation 1 is also going to end almost definitely for sure at 25 chapters, so chapter 26 will start generation 2. It's about time, right?