RAINERaine dumped one of the last boxes down onto the dusty living room floor with a grunt, then straightened up to survey the room. It needed work, and she wasn’t the only one that saw that. But she also couldn’t deny that the place had a sort of charm, a charm that had swept them all off their feet and had them rushing to sign the lease as quickly as possible. Still, something didn’t sit right with her. She didn’t know what exactly, but every time she glanced at the staircase to her right, her chest tightened up. It was probably just allergies. She was still going to hang a protection charm on their bedroom doors, just in case. Raine wasn’t big on the superstitious mumbo-jumbo like her mother. All through her childhood, she had been sort of embarrassed of her mother’s strange rituals. Like pinching her nose whenever she saw an ambulance, or never saying goodbye on a bridge. In another sense, she admired her mother, because she was always herself, no matter what anyone thought, and Raine tried to live like that too. Luckily, she had found a group of people who didn’t care one way or the other. Still, Raine thought as her eyes carefully skimmed over every feature of the room. I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry.Figuring she better get back out there and help with the last few boxes, Raine turned on her heel and left the room, heading into the hall toward the front door. She pulled the screen door open, and stepped out, where she paused to watch her friends down on the sidewalk.Raine was excited to be living with them again. She had met them all in her freshman year of college, where they had lived on the same floor. She and Elora had been roommates, while Mikey lived three doors down on the left side of the hall, and Jaxon straight across. Their freshman year had been filled with late nights in their dorm rooms, just having fun and hanging out. She remember those nights the best, rather than the nights in the city, filled with club music and cigarette smoke. But they hardly ever really went out, since Elora stayed away from that kind of stuff. She bounded down the front steps and stopped in front of the moving truck, peering inside. It was dark, but she could still see a stack of boxes in the back. It felt like they were never ending, and Raine’s arms were already aching. Either they had way too much stuff, or she was just a weakling. MIKEYHe would admit, the heaviest stuff was probably his. He had a small drum kit, a few amps, a couple guitar cases, his mix board, and a bin of various twisting cords, not to mention a few other things that he had felt necessary to bring from home. It was work stuff though, really, and he found it kind of funny that he had pretty much packed the most stuff out of the whole crew. His job just required a lot of equipment. That was a big reason they picked this place. It had something for everyone, and the thing it had for Mikey was a music room. A room with good sound (he was still going to have to tack egg cartons to the wall, but still) and enough space to set his things up. It was in the basement, which was a must-have, to avoid annoying his roomies with constant noise. Which he was totally used to. Actually, he was afraid the place was going to be too quiet, compared to his cozy home filled with people. That was another reason he had agreed that the lot of them moving in together was a good idea. He hated the idea of living alone. It just seemed so… boring. Compared to the organized chaos of his mother’s house, anyway. Hefting a box up into his arms, he awkwardly hoped out of the truck and ambled his way up to the house, passing Raine as she headed back to get another box. His hair was getting into his eyes, and for the millionth time that day, he decided that he should probably just cut it all off. Maybe he could get one of the girls to do it. One of them had to know something about cutting hair, right? Or maybe Jaxon would be the professional in that department. He put the box he was carrying onto a pile of other boxes. It was all going to be a bitch to unpack, and he certainly wasn’t looking forward to it. Raine had labeled most of the boxes. His eyes skimmed over yum yum in my tum tum, scrub-a-dub-dub, FRAGILE AS FUCK, the library. Weird. At least he was able to figure out what they all were. Kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, fragile stuff, and books. It would make things a little more interesting, anyway, and that was probably what she was going for. Mikey ran his hands through his hair as he stepped back into the hall. He was getting tired of hauling boxes, and wondered if the rest of them wanted to unpack right away. He wanted to get his music room set up quick, because he had a tune due for some toothpaste commercial. His deadline was coming up in a few days, and he really didn’t want to have to pull an all nighter to finish it.
RAINERaine shoved the rest of the boxes toward the edge of the truck bucket, and then leapt out, her sneakers slapping against the asphalt as she landed. There were only three left, and with a quick glance at her watch, Raine decided that they had made good time. The truck was supposed to be back by noon, and it was 11:23 now. With a satisfied nod to no one in particular, she hoisted a box labelled rock on man into her arms.Suddenly, a pair of strong arms curled around her, startling her. “Shit!” She blurted as the box started to tip, but a quick adjustment of her arms had Mikey’s stuff back securely against her chest. “Hey babe,” A voice murmured in her ear after a quick kiss was pressed against her cheek, and she relaxed back into his chest, a relieved laugh escaping her lips. She didn’t know what the hell was wrong with her; she had been so jumpy since they arrived early that morning. But the sound of Jaxon’s voice soothed her oddly frayed nerves, and she tipped her head back against his shoulder to look at him. “Hey, you ass,” Raine teased, flashing him a cheeky grin. “Mikey would’ve totally slaughtered me if I had dropped this!” She kissed the nape of his neck before gently pulling out of his arms. Turning around to look at him, Raine was reminded of the first time she had ever seen him, leaning against his doorframe as she carried boxes, much like these ones, into her own dorm room. Immediately, she was under the impression that he was going to be that one guy, the guy that would brood up down the hallways and visit every female dorm room that would invite him in. And she wasn’t wrong. For the longest time, she hardly even gave him the time of day. But, it was hard to ignore someone living right across the hall, and eventually, they just started talking.“Did you have a hard time getting the mattresses inside?” Raine asked, her eyes flicking toward the house. What she loved about it was the greenhouse in the backyard. Strangely enough, she loved gardening, and it was the only thing she could do for hours at a time, without losing interest. And it was going to nice to sit in there in the morning and write.Although, it was sort of hard to be a travel journalist when she hadn’t gone anywhere in years. And wouldn’t in the near future, thanks to what was going on in her body. Maybe she’d take care of it. She hadn’t decided. She glanced back at Jaxon and pressed her lips together, as if the secret would spill out of her right then and there. MIKEYMikey had picked the room across from the bathroom. There was no specific reason, except he had sort of been the last one to make dibs. Why the room in front of the bathroom was considered the worst, he had no idea. There was a window, room for his bed, a decent sized closet. Everything a guy needed, really. Perhaps it was a little smaller than the others, but Mikey already knew that he’d be spending most of his time down in the basement, composing music for both his work and himself. That was the thing about music. There was a piece that was professional, but also a piece that was strictly his, something he could call his own. He’d never really had that as a kid, because the unspoken rule when growing up with four younger siblings is that you share, no matter what. The tune he was writing for the toothpaste commercial left his lips as he whistled himself down the hall. It was something dumb and simple, something that didn’t take him very long to come up with. No point creating a masterpiece, when it was only going to be the background music for some guy brushing his teeth. Jason passed by as Mikey stopped in front of his room. The clean cut guy gave him a short nod, and Mikey returned it, for a lack of better things to do. They were friends, sure, but Mikey never really knew what to say to him. They didn’t have much in common, so Mikey always struggled to keep a conversation going. Whatever. Mikey stepped through the doorway of his room and contemplated the way he wanted to set it up. He tucked some hair behind his ear and leaned against the doorframe. There weren’t many choices, but keeping it simple was alright with him. Footsteps down the hall had Mikey leaning back to see who it was. Rosy cheeks and a bright smile greeted him, and he stepped out of his room as Elora approached. Things were always sort of… weird between them. Not in a bad way. He was probably closest to her out of any of them, aside from maybe Raine. Since Raine and Jaxon were a thing, they were consistently bunched together. But hey, Mikey wasn’t going to complain about that. Not at all. “Hey,” She said, peering down at her hands. “Hey, yourself,” Mikey replied, once again tucking some rebellious strands of hair behind his ear. “How’s it going? You all moved in okay?” He peeked around her, at the boxes stacked outside her door. All seemed fine, but it was important to ask, in case she needed his help with anything.
RAINEJaxon’s words ignited a soft smile on her lips. It was nice to hear him say things like that. While she wasn’t one to be insecure, there was a small part of herself that worried he would eventually grow tired of her. She thought that her attention span was bad, but Jaxon’s was worse, specifically when it came to women. She had watched him go through many, many girls throughout the years that they had known each other. It wasn’t a far-fetched worry, but when he spoke words like that to her, she didn’t know what in the world she had been worried about in the first place.At her question, he joked around, flexing his biceps with a, “Nothing’s too heavy for these guns.” Raine smile widen as she rolled her eyes in a teasing way. He wasn’t actually very buff in the arms, but he was defined, and she preferred men like that anyway. As long as a guy could sweep her off her feet, they were strong enough for Raine. And Jaxon had definitely swept the girl away. She hadn’t been in love with someone the way she loved Jaxon in a long time. “What, that pudding?” She asked in mock surprise as she reached out and pinched his bicep, juggling the box in her arms for a split second before wrapping both securely around Mikey’s stuff. “You alright?” Jaxon questioned suddenly, snapping Raine out of thought. It took her a moment to realize she had zoned out, and, after blinking a few times, returned her focus back to her boyfriend. She felt his hand encircle her arm, and then fingers under her chin, tilting her face up. He asked her whether it had to do with the place, and if she like it or not. Before he had finished, Raine was already shaking her head. “No, no, no,” She said quickly, forcing a quick smile. Thankfully, he hadn’t been able to see through her, and for now, it seemed, her secret was safe. “The house is great! I mean, once we clean up, open some windows, and air the place out, I think it’ll really work for all of us.” She nodded and smiled reassuringly up at him. She stood up on her tiptoes and pecked his lips. “As long as you’re here, everything will be fine."And it would be. Fine, that is. Everything was going to be okay. At least, Raine hoped it would. MIKEYThe words had hardly even left Mikey’s mouth before Elora started talking. “It’s fine. I mean— I’m fine. My room’s fine,” She spluttered, setting off another burst of pink in her cheeks, as she looked everywhere but at him. Something was up, and the undetermined amount of times ‘fine’ had vacated her lips pointed to that being true. Mikey looked her over, and nothing really seemed out of the ordinary, aside from the way she seemed a little nervous. Which was really odd, because Elora was usually pretty calm around everyone, including him. “Well, that’s… fine,” Mikey replied lamely, for a lack of better things to say. Mounting up some courage, he was just about to ask if everything was alright, when she interrupted him by saying she had to go. “Oh, okay, see ya later,” He said as she swept past him, down the hall toward the living room. Mikey watched her go, and then shrugged to himself as he went back into his room. Whatever. It wasn’t any of his business anyway.He stepped over the first stack of boxes. mike’s gonch was written on the side, and Mikey chuckled to himself as he scraped at the tape with his thumbnail. Once he got a corner free, he pulled the tape off, freeing the two flaps of the box, which sprung open to reveal his clothes. He was pretty sure this was the only box of clothes he had brought. He wasn’t sure if he was going to regret that or not. He’d find out eventually.Mikey crossed the room, towards the old dresser that was here when he moved in. It was just a simple dresser, with two small drawers on top, and then two longer ones underneath. The mahogany wood was scratched to shit, but Mikey could careless. It was perfect for his stuff. Sock and underwear in the top two drawers, then shirts and pants in the two longer ones. It was all he needed, really. He doubted his minimal packing would even fill up this thing.Curiously, he pulled up the drawers, to see what kind of shape they were in. They seemed fine, but when he got to the last drawer, something caught his eye. Something was scratched into the wood, or well, it seemed like it, and just as Mikey leaned closer to get a better look, a thud outside his door had him jumping up. “What the hell…?” He mumbled to himself as he strode to his door. Peeking out into the hall, Mikey looked out to the left, toward the other bedrooms. Nothing strange there. He glanced to the right, and was surprised to see Elora, sitting there in the middle of the hall. “Uh,” He took a hesitant step toward her. “You okay?"
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