Private My Fault

Fox Tarts

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Jae kept his head down. People stared at him all the same. Those familiar with him asked what happened. The teen waved off their concerns with a trained smile and a quick explanation that he tripped and hurt himself. Perhaps people stared because the dark bruising that bloomed across the right side of his face was oddly enchanting. Something about the shade of plum purples and lime greens as attractive as it was brutal. Must his magical beauty extend to his injuries? Jae thought sourly.

The teen quietly slipped into art class and took his seat near the middle of the room. Rumors were starting to spread about him. Jae caught brief conversations in the halls about how he got into a fight, or was hiding something. Could no one accept that it was an accident? Though Jae lied about tripping, the black eye was entirely his fault. Aunt Taliah was caught off-guard, she acted out of self defense. But other people wouldn't see it that way, and Jae couldn't bear to have his aunt's name harmed. She worked so hard for the colony and to take care of him. If rumors spread about her then what would happen to her business?

Jae will keep his head down, quietly get through the day, then run home and find relief from the stares.

@Zora
 

Zora

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Edwin was just finishing off the final touches to the sketch he was doing when his art students began filtering into the classroom; and along with the students came the loud whisperings that his acute hearing immediately picked up on.

Phrases like "merboy, fighting, lying, probably deserved it"... hit Edwin and made the normally gruff teacher even gruffer, and definitely angrier than normal. He hated, no despised, gossip. It reminded him of his years as a poor, but talented, apprentice in medieval Italy. The cutting barbs and petty rivalries that often were nothing more than jealousy by insecure individuals that revelled in the misfortune of others.

Wiping his hands on a cloth rag, Edwin watched quietly, and with a keen eye as everyone took their places at their easels, his frown of disapproval only becoming deeper as the whispering gossip continued.

"Good afternoon, class," Edwin called out, his voice cool as it carried across the classroom.

"Today's lesson is ... perception. I want you to sketch, not paint, a portrait of how you think others see you." he stated calmly as his blood-red gaze flickered over to Jae finally and narrowed suddenly at the sight of bruising that covered the one side of his face.

Frowning suspiciously at this, Edwin looked away before Jae could notice his reaction. Centuries of experience made the vampire doubt that whatever had happened to the young merperson was a simple fight.

@Fox Tarts

(We can now skip to the end of the class if you want.)
 
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Fox Tarts

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The whispers followed him into art class, but Jae kept his head down. Mr. Edwin gave them their project and Jae listened without fully comprehending. He pulled his sketch pad and charcoal pens from his bag, and got to work. It was only while outlining his face that he realized what Mr. Edwin asked. A portrait of how he thought others saw him. Jae's hand faltered.

How others saw him. The charcoal pen in his hand snapped in two, and Jae stared at the two sticks dumbly. He didn't want to think about how others saw him. Not when the teen felt stares at his back and heard rumors around corners. But how did his aunt see him? Was he her nephew? Or a burden to care fore. Someone. . . someone one step away from destruction.

Jae tried to imagine it, a complete transformation into a siren. What would he look like? Slowly, Jae picked up a fresh charcoal pen and a tried to imagine it. Perhaps with sharper features, narrowed eyes and the frilled ears of his mer form. Though Jae would not call himself an artist, the portrait he sketched had a decidedly dangerous look to it.

Class blew by in a blink of an eye and Jae stared at the sketch he had made. It both looked and didn't look like him. The bell rang and students began to file out but Jae lingered, unsure if he wished to turn in his sketch. Soon it was just him and Mr. Edwin in the room. Jae hesitated before handing his sketch to Mr. Edwin.
 

Zora

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Collecting each student's sketch as they slowly but steadily filed out of his art class, Edwin was soon left alone with Jae.

"Mr. Yi-Lin? Is there a problem?" Edwin asked, his tone somewhat concerned as he put down the sketches he had collected and wandered over to where Jae was.

"Are you dissatisfied with your sketch?" he asked calmly as he glanced quickly at the self-portrait, and raised an eyebrow, clearly surprised at how Jae thought other's perceived him.
 

Fox Tarts

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Face to face with Mr. Edwin, Jae took a steadying breath and forced a smile to his face. "There is no problem." The teen said carefully. Don't stutter. Don't hesitate. "I wish I had some more time in class to work." Jae handed his portrait over. He avoided Mr. Edwin's face, scared of what expression he may find there.

"I-I-" Don't stutter. "I should be going to my next class." Jae tried another smile, even though it hurt to do so.
 

Zora

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Edwin accepted Jae's sketch without glancing at it. At the moment, he was much more interested in trying to figure what was going on with the young merperson than grading his effort of self-perception.

"Before you go," Edwin started as he followed Jae towards the door. "My door is open if you ever want to talk about .. things," he offered as his gaze very deliberately and meaningfully strayed to Jae's bruised face.

"I am also a pretty good listener," he added, not wanting to push too hard, but also needing to get his pint across.
 

Fox Tarts

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Jae hesitated, tense as Mr. Edwin followed him to the school door. The teen paused, listened to his teachers words and forced another smile. "I'm fine." Jae said, the lie fell easy from his lips. He's said it so many times today it felt natural by now. "It was an accident." Jae motioned towards his face. "And my own fault, anyways." He added, quietly. He wouldn't have been hurt had he told his aunt what he wanted to do.

Still, Jae couldn't help the pang of guilt that raced through him in that moment. Mr. Edwin has only been kind to him. Always ready with helpful advice and. . . and Jae couldn't help but wonder what he would say if Jae gave the whole story. Would he agree with his aunt, or maybe. . . The teen rushed from the room before he could say or think anything else.

He drifted through the rest of his classes. Jae ignored the stares, the whispers and smiled and lied to those who asked. It weighed on him. Each new question, every new whisper. Jae heard someone say it's always the pretty ones who are the most dangerous. The teen had to duck into the bathroom to compose himself, as those words stuck between his ribs with the delicacy of a blade.

Were they not wrong, though? Jae was dangerous. His beauty, his song, magic designed to pull people towards him. Jae made it to his next class late. Words became white noise and after school Jae found himself outside Mr. Edwin's room. He should go home where he could hide in his room and pretend that tomorrow won't be so tiring. What stopped him, was a question lingering in the back of his mind.

Jae knocked on the door before entering the room. "Um, Mr. Edwin?" The teen glanced around the empty room, and found it relaxing. A quiet space where he could think. Then said, before he could stop himself. "You said we could talk?"
 

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Edwin had been tidying up the art room when Jae knocked and asked if he could have a word with him.

"But of course," he said as he moved the last easel back into place and tossed some old rags into a bin to be recycled. "just give me a second here to finish tidying up, and we can talk," Edwin explained as he placed a handful of dirty brushes in some solvent.

"Alright, done. Have a seat," Edwin remarked as he gestured for Jae to take a seat somewhere, and then followed suit by sitting on top of a desktop, a desk and a half away. He didn't want to crowd Jae or make him feel uncomfortable.

"So, what seems to be troubling you?" Edwin asked calmly as he gave Jae his full attention.
 

Fox Tarts

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Jae nodded, and busied himself by studying old projects decorating the room. Portraits and landscapes of students past. The teen took a seat near Mr. Edwin's desk, away from the classroom doors.

"So, what seems to be troubling you?" Mr. Edwin asked. Jae studied the wood grain on his desk. What was troubling him? The rumors, did. People said he must have ticked off the wrong person, or did something to deserve it. And both were true, as Jae put his aunt in an uncomfortable position and she acted out of self-defense. Was it, though? There it was, that nagging feeling he repressed and pushed deep, deep down into his person.

Jae shook his head, unable to keep the idea in his thoughts. His black eye was his own fault, he acted without thinking. He wanted to make his aunt happy, and instead he angered her. If he had told her he could sing to control water, she wouldn't have- wouldn't have- wouldn't have treated him as a dangerous thing.

Pearls, pale blue and lumpy rolled across the wooden desk. With a start Jae realized he was crying. Tears dropped from the wetness around his eyes, and hardened into pearls as they slipped down his cheek. His thoughts were split. Caught between embarrassment of his pearl tears and the stinging realization that maybe his aunt didn't care about him. That maybe in her head she deemed him a lost cause to his primal magic.

A dangerous thing to be watched and kept under control. "I-I-I'm n-not-" Jae tried to say but couldn't speak as his shoulder's racked with hiccups.
 

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"Jae..." Edwin began, now extremely worried as he watched with growing concern as the tears turned to pearls - something not uncommon, he had had merstudents cry once or twice on him in class - but not to the extend Jae was.

In fact, Edwin was so worried that he grabbed a painting next to him - which was an unfinished bowl of fruit, and grabbed the bowl out of the painting. He then scooped up the increasing numbers of pearls as quickly as he could and placed them in the bowl.

"Jae," Edwin started again. "It is okay. Or will be, alright?" he corrected himself. "Whatever is the matter I am here to help," the vampire told him quietly, his normally gruff nature softening considerably as he handed Jae a clean rag.
 

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