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Doll Shop: Nursery Rhymes


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[CENTER][FONT="Comic Sans MS"][SIZE="4"]Doll Shop: Nursery Rhymes[/SIZE][/FONT][/CENTER]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]--20 Years Ago--[/COLOR]
The fire roared upwards into the night sky. The entire town of Benista was ablaze as people ran screaming towards the river. Using the bridge, flocking into boats and rafts, or simply swimming for dear life, the citizens crossed the river to avoid the deadly blaze. Back on the town shore, a woman was dragged towards the boat.
"I CAN'T! NO! NO!"
[COLOR="DarkRed"]--Present Day--[/COLOR]
Bryan slowly opened his eyes as sunlight filtered through the window onto his bed. He blinked against the blinding light as he slowly came to. With a slight groan, he pushed himself upwards, elbows popping as he stared sleepily at his pillow. A strange sighing noise at the foot of his bed told him that his dog, Emma, was not happy at his awakening, using his legs as a pillow. He rolled out of bed.
"Come on girl..."
The golden retriever gave a grunt as she rose and hopped off the bed.
A few minutes later, a showered and dressed Bryan left the house with Emma in tow on a leash.
"Taking Emma for a walk, back in a bit mom!"
"Be careful!"
"Always am..."
The pair headed down the main road of Benista, towards the shopping center of town. The two were moving at a leisurely pace, enjoying the fair weather that was a constant in the small town. Bryan looked around from behind his sunglasses at the newly restored part of town. So clean and...boring. The new construction had gone with a more modern look to their buildings, making the place seem less cozy to Bryan. He prefered the older part of town, the part that survived the fire. Old brick buildings, cracked sidewalks, and at the very center, a huge stone fountain. There was a lot of character in this town. Bryan rounded the corner and head up the street towards "Grinner's Toys", one of his favorite places to roam. Mr. Grinner was loved by all the residents of the town as a kind hearted old man who could make anyone smile. The brass bell over the door chimed as Bryan entered the old store. It had the smell of fresh wood all around, and from practically every inch of the store, there were crammed toys of all sorts. Old wooden nutcrackers and marionettes to modern day action figures and video games. Bryan smiled and wrapped Emma's leash around his hand to keep her close. Mr. Grinner walked out from the backroom with a big box in his arms. He gave a wide grin when he saw Bryan.
"Hello my boy! Hello Emma. You guys going on your walk?"
"Yup. Stopping in to look around. Anything new?"
Grinner's appearance was that of a flabbergasted professor. His bright white hair stuck out at in every direction, with stray whisps sticking straight up as if he was being shocked. His nose was bulbous, and he wore circular rimmed glasses very low on it. His baby blue cardigan was torn at the elbows and had frayed threads hanging out of the seams. His black suspenders were patched and stained, and his black shoes were scuffed and dirty. He gave a wink as he set the boxes down.
"My boy, when someone doesn't find something new in my store, it'll be the day when I am no longer running it! Discover what's new! No fun in me telling you!"
Bryan smiled and cocked an eyebrow. He began to slowly walk up and down the aisles of toys, running his hands gently over shelves.
((Alright children, you're not cursed yet. Enter Mr. Grinner's shop. There, you will find the toy that will curse you and pick it up. And from there, we'll set into motion our story.))
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[color=darkred]I blinked, nose wrinkling at the smell of cat hair in my nose. Mrs. Abernathie's cat Mittens had decided she wanted to sleep with her tail draped across my face. I pushed the 12 pound chocolate colored fluffball away from my face and rolled over to look at the clock. I was late for my morning Physics class, and didn't have time to drive out there; it would be over by the time I got there. Mittens made a small noise of annoyance, and I sighed, sinking my fingers into her soft fur. [i]Might as well take this morning off, check out that store...[/i]

It wasn't long before I was toweling off and throwing on my trademark skinny jeans and a tube top I'd made out of an old Kiss tee, and my worn black Nikes. Mittens sniffed appreciatively at the lingering scent of my kiwi bodywash, then brushed up against my pants leg, leaving dark strands of fur on my grey jeans.

I shooed the cat out of my room, grey messenger bag slung across my chest, deciding against any jewelry except my class ring; I'm not sure why I'm so attached to the darn thing, my high school wasn't that fantastic, and the only memories I really have are of that jerk Devan and of my lost sister. Still, as I felt the inscription of my initials on the inside, and the little dolphin on the outside, it made me feel safe. Benista wasn't my home, but it would have to do while I grew.

I passed Mrs. Abernathie on the stairs and gave her a quick hug. She reminded me of my aunt, a small, bustling woman with a perpetual smile and a kind word.

"[b]I'm going to go look at the town; I haven't really had a chance to explore Benista yet.[/b]"

She smiled warmly, patting my hand. "[b]We're a happy town, darling. Why don't you take a look at Mr. Grinner's toy shop?[/b]"

I blinked, perplexed. I hadn't been interested in toys in a long time. "[b]Um, why?[/b]"

Her eyes twinkled. "[b]He has something for everyone there, even people who think they've outgrown toys. Maybe you'll find an old book you never thought you'd see again. That's how I found Patches.[/b]"

She'd shown me Patches. It was the sweetest little stuffed dog, made out of quilt patches; hence, the name. She'd had one like it as a child, and it was the only one she'd seen like it.

"[b]I'll take a look; would you like me to stop by the market on my way back, before my afternoon class?[/b]"

She wrinkled her nose in thought, Mittens circling our feet. "[b]Maybe some red onions. I need them for garnish.[/b]"

I nodded, and kissed her withered brown cheek. "[b]I will see you later, then![/b]"

I made the landing, and nudged Mittens away from the door as I stepped out into the fresh air. I loved the old timey feel of the village. Somehow, my feet made their way to the little toy shop without me knowing. I just took in the scenery as I went, smiling.

Then I was there. The door loomed in front of me - and I do mean loomed; I am a bit short - but I braved the clenching in my stomach and reached for the doorknob. It turned, and the bell above the door chimed cheerfully. Instantly I felt at home; dolls and marionettes, carvings and paintings and books lined the walls. It had such a happy, loving feel to it.

"[b]Hello, missy! What can I do for yah?[/b]"

I looked over to the old, grandfatherly man sitting on a stool. I smiled, in spite of my skepticism. "[b]I'm just looking.[/b]"

He chuckled. "[b]Oh, you'll find something. Call me if you need help.[/b]"

I nodded, smiling softly, and noticed a boy and his dog farther back in the store. I secluded myself around the carved things, a place I was familiar with. The wood held warmth, and it made me feel comfortable.[/color]
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Faye smiled as she sat up in her bed. Looking outside the small window next to it, she giggled at the sight of a little squirrel bouncing around outside. Sliding out of the canopied bed, Faye Fawn clumsily ran to her bathroom and got ready for the day.

Faye exited the bathroom fresh and clean. Scrubbed pink and smelling like strawberries, Faye had chosen to wear a bright green dress, the same color as her eyes, with matching sandals and hair ribbons strung through her long, wavy, black hair.
"Daddy, I'm going to go play outside, 'kay!" she called as she skipped through her house, heading for the door.
"Oh, Faye, wait a second!" Faye's father, Mr. Fawn called. Faye stopped in her tracks and turned around. "Faye, hun, would you give this to Mr. Grinner for me?" the tired looking man asked, extending a folded up paper to Faye.
"Okay... What is it?" Faye asked, taking the paper in hand.
"It's a paper from my construction company asking Mr. Grinner if he would let us rebuild his shop to match the rest of the town's buildings." Mr. Fawn stated. Faye nodded her head and headed out the door.

Faye was squated in front of the river. The paper she was to deliver to Mr. Grinner was crumpled up in her small hand.
"I like Mr. Grinner's shop the way it is..." she mumbled angrily. "I won't let Daddy change it because it reminds him of Mommy!" Faye started to rip the paper into tiny, unable-to- be-put-together-again pieces. Then, she tossed the pieces into the river to be carried away and never seen again. "I'll just tell Daddy that Mr. Grinner said he likes his store the way it is." Smirking at her own cleverness, Faye skipped to Mr. Grinner's shop.

"Hi, Mr. Grinner!" Faye sing-songed, skipping into the shop.
"Good morning, Faye! How are you?" the old man replied with a smile.
"I'm happy! But my stuffed animals are gettin' kinda lonesome, so I figured I'd get another one!" the bubbly 10 year old reported.
"Well, you know as well as anyone that I have plenty stuffed animals!" Mr. Grinner laughed. Faye nodded and headed toward the stuffed animals.
Okay, I hope that wasn't too bad... I was going out on a limb with that letter thing, but I couldn't get it out of my head. Tell me if any changes are needed.
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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"]The sound of my alarm startled me to the point where I picked it up and threw it across the room. The sound of the metal striking the wall and crashing to the floor really set me in motion for the day. I sat up in my bed and looked where I threw the clock.

"Broken, just like everything else," I muttered.

After a quick shower and throwing on some clothes, I headed down the steps and saw Ms. Grimoire, the landlady. She was such a dusty old relic. Her clothes didn't even look like they came from this century. She was dressed in a green flower printed dress with a collar that used to be white at one point and used to be lacy too. Her hair was always a cluttered mess, because she didn't bother to take care of herself. Guess losing your husband can do that to you. Her face was full of wrinkles and each one seemed to tell another story about heartbreak or trauma. With the amount of wrinkles Grimoire had, she must of had one pretty messed up life.

"Isn't it just a little too early for you to be human yet Geoff?" She asked

"Isn't it just a little to early to be asking me those kinds of questions, Grim?"

She chuckled. Ms. Grim took me in right after Jonathan died. I had been living on the streets, sleeping in whatever abandoned car I could manage to break into. She penned me up and only asked that I pay her a measly 200 bucks a month for the place. Not that it was worth 200 bucks, but I think it was more "putting up with you" money.

"Where you going?" Ms. Grim asked.

I shrugged. " Don't know."

"Well, it seems like you need answers. I always know that looking inside yourself, you'll find them."

"Yeah Mom....Okay mom." I joked.

"Well, if you want REAL answers to your questions, go to Mr. Grinner's. He's a wise man."

"The Toy Man? How's the crazy toy man gonna help me?"

"He may seem crazy to you, Geoff, but Mr Grinner has seen some nasty things in his time. Taking advice from your elders isn't taboo, at least I don't think so."

"Don't wait up for me, honey" I said as I walked out the door.

When I arrived at Mr. Grinner's, I felt the creepiest of vibes. The toys in his shop were antiquated. Wooden soldiers? Dollhouses? What kind of kid would want to play with this stuff in the electronic age? I guess nostalgia knows no limits.

I walked around the store, and saw a little girl prancing about Mr. Grinner, her young eyes fascinated by the world around her. You could tell she had never experienced hardship before. Then I saw a kid and his dog, also talking with Grinner. Some other girl was absent-mindedly looking at the wooden figurines.

"Can I help you, fella?" Grinner asked, finally noticing me.

"Depends, what do you have here Gramps?"

He frowned, wrinkling his brow.

"Kids these days have no manners," He snorked "But if you must know, I have everything you could ever want?"

I laughed.

"We'll see."

"Well, let me take care of the little one's needs first. I'll be with you in a second."

I took my place looking at the toy airplane models. Relics of wars past. Their paint was faded, due to lack of upkeep. Grinner had everything, but it wasn't exactly kept up to par. I spun the propeller on one, and imagined what it would be like to fly.
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[color=darkred]I looked at the marionettes, their staring faces creeping me out a bit. I felt like one of them, constantly being pulled by other peoples strings. I wrinkled my nose, moving away from them. Devan had called me his little doll; being petite with the curly hair apparently made me a play thing. Next to the marionettes were porcelain dolls, mostly Victorian, and suddenly, I understood the name. All of them had the same, painted-on faces, the same white skin, with those dark, luminous eyes. Each one, despite their characteristic differences, had carefully coiled and powdered hair. I caught sight of my own reflection in the store window as I turned, and shuddered at the eerie resemblance between myself and those horrid porcelain dolls.

I made my way back to Mr. Grinner. Quietly I asked, "[b]Do you...do you happen to have any music boxes?[/b]"

He smiled warmly at me and climbed off his stool to hobble over to a lower shelf. "[b]Down here, dearie.[/b]" Then he hobbled back.

I knelt, ignoring the dust from the floor that collected on the knees of my jeans. My cross swung forward, glinting in the half light, and I carefully clutched at it before touching the smooth and carved tops of the boxes. They all had a story to them, I knew, but it would take forever to tell even one.

Then I saw it.

It was a dark mahogany box, simplistic on the outside but holding a warmth in it that captured me, leaving my mouth hanging open in a soft "o" of wonderment. I touched it and my fingertips tingled. Slowly I opened the lid, the wood smooth and perfect to my touch. A soft, wafting tune began to play, and once I had the lid all the way up, I could see a soft pink and white ballerina spinning in a graceful, permanent arabesque. Her face was nondescript, and against the soft brown silk lining of the case she seemed to fade, ancient and archaic.

Despite myself, I began to hum along with the haunting tune. It was nothing I recognized, but at the same time it was utterly captivating. The song wound down, so I searched for the knob. It was in the form of a tiny skeleton key fixed to the back of the beautiful box. I spun it twice, listening, wondering. I knew I had to have it.[/color]
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*Deciding not to write in first person like mistress Steph or master Korey.*

Nick stumbled out of the student learning center, the largest building on the Benista University campus, and into the morning air. His hair was a disheveled mess, and his eyes had been used to capacity. He had just spent the entire night in that damn building, finishing a Spanish composition, a history essay, and two pages worth of calculus.

Now his legs carried him semi-consciously in the direction of his little apartment. Nick's dwelling was mercifully close to campus; only a ten minute walk or a fifteen minute stumble.

He passed people on the quiet downtown sidewalk, only slightly aware of their existence. He was halfway to his apartment when he came upon Mr. Grinner's Toy Shop. Had he not seen a beautiful face inside the shop, he would have passed without a second thought. However, he [I]did[/I] see a beautiful face, and he stopped dead in his tracks.

She was a petite red head, and the expression of intrigue on her face as she searched the shelves of the shop captivated Nick. Without any tact or regard for his dignity (probably due to sleep deprivation), he entered the store.

For a small shop it was slightly crowded. Nick almost stepped on an energetic ten year old who was scampering about underfoot. There were also two other men in the store. One, oddly enough, had a dog on a leash. The other seemed just as out of place, his rugged countenance not quite fitting in with the toy store's aesthetic aura.

Nick spotted the girl he was looking for. She was looking at what appeared to be small wooden boxes. Nick couldn't analyze what she was doing any further than that, really. His brain screamed at him to go home, to rest up. He pushed these thoughts aside and strode towards where the girl was standing.

Before he had taken two steps, the old man who ran the shop had cut right in front of him. [B]"Hello son,"[/B] he said quite calmly and warmly. His voice, surprisingly enough to Nick, didn't agitate his tired mind. Rather, it calmed him like a breeze. [B]"Can I help you find anything?"[/B] Mr. Grinner's kind eyes stared into Nick's, almost as if the old man were searching for the answer himself.

[SIZE="2"][B]"Nn, just lookin', thanks,"[/B][/SIZE] Nick mumbled sleepily. He skirted around Mr. Grinner.

[B]"Well, if you have any questions, you ask me!"[/B] Grinner called behind him.

Nick barely heard the man. He was trying to seem busy in the shelves behind the pretty girl. He thought of things that he could say to her as he pretended to examine toy soldiers. However, nothing was coming to him.

[I]Shit, I'm bad at this,[/I] he thought to himself.

He was momentarily torn away from these thoughts by the sight of a small revolutionary war figurine. He stared at it perplexedly. He had seen this toy somewhere before, he knew it. The strangest feeling of Deja Vu was overcoming him. Slowly and cautiously, almost reverently, Nick picked it up and held it in his hand. It was small, barely filling his palm. A strange electricity seemed to seep into his fingers as he held the little fake man.

Nick was so entranced by the unshakable feeling that he had seen this very same figurine at some point in his past, he walked backwards a few steps and bumped into the lovely stranger, who was now kneeling on the ground.
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OOC: She's a red-head sweetie. =]

[color=darkred]I looked up just in time to see this lanky, awkward boy step backwards. I tried to get to my feet, but he tripped over one. I reached out from reflex, catching his free hand and steadying him. I watched him, unblinking, for a fraction of a second before hearing the clink of my class ring as it slid off my hand and onto the wooden floor. I blushed brightly across my cheekbones, embarassed at having been caught unawares by a complete stranger, and dipped gracefully to retrieve it from where it had rolled under the shelf.

"[b]Um, I-S-sorry, miss.[/b]" His mumbled apologies continued until I straightened and attempted to smile at him. I imagined it looked more like a grimace.

"[b]It's okay, really. I wasn't paying any attention.[/b]"

The box was still in my hand, and I felt like I must've imagined it, but it felt like it was pulsing in time to my increased heart rate. My eyes locked on his, a shocking, gorgeous blue, and I fell into them. He seemed so familiar... I shook my head violently. [i]Snap out of it, girl![/i]

"[b]H-hey...Haven't I seen you around campus?[/b]"

I zoomed back out, focusing on his face. He was right. He looked a little young, but he did look familiar. "[b]Don't I have...[/b]" I frowned, thinking. "[b]I have class on Thursdays with you. Professor Dain, right, Spanish?[/b]"

He nodded, and seemed pleased that I'd remembered him. I was still clutching the music box, and knew I needed to pay for it. I wasn't putting it back; it was why I had come in here.

He fumbled for a piece of paper and a writing utensil. "[b]Umm., if I gave you my number would you like to-to meet for c-coffee?[/b]"

He seemed over nervous, and I felt bad for him. I wasn't ready for another relationship, not after Devan. I wasn't going to risk that bad of a break again, but I couldn't just say no. He seemed really sweet and, well.... those eyes just intrigued me. I should at least try to be friends with him. "[b]Sure...[/b]"

He jotted it down quickly and awkwardly offered it to me. I reached for it, and as I took the paper, our fingers touched. His skin was soft for the most part, maybe a little caloused from writing, but overall pleasant. I let my hand linger and I knew I had a problem on my hands.[/color]
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Bryan wandered the stuffed animals, not really paying attention as he let his hand slide slowly over the fabrics and furs. Emma sniffed here and there, trotting at his side. He glanced up at Faye and smiled before turning his attention back to the animals. Emma tugged on her leash, leaning towards the young girl and licking her hands. Bryan turned and pulled the leash back.
"Hey hey, leave her alone Emma!"
The Golden Retriever ignored her owner and kept pulling towards Faye. Bryan sighed and knelt down, pulling the dog backwards as he pet her chest. He gave the child a grin from over his sunglasses.
"Sorry there kid, she's just really friendly."
((When you ask Mr. Grinner about your toys, he'll refuse to sell them to you at first. It'll take some convincing to get him to let you have it))
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Faye looked down at Emma and scratched her head.

"That's fine!" she giggled.

Faye studied the familiar shelves that she had grown used to over her 10 year life span. Stuffed animal off all types lined the seemingly ancient wooden shelves. The little girl stared at the adorable plush toys until something caught her eye. On the top shelf, she saw a faint glimmer of gold. A deep longing overtook Faye as she deperately jumped to reach, but to no avail. Then, she had an idea.

"Uhm...Mr. Doggy Guy!" Faye nearly squeaked to the young man with the Golden Retriever, who looked up.

"M-me?" Bryan asked, almost stunned that the little girl had called on a complete stranger.

"Uh-huh!" the little girl answered, motioning for him to come closer. Bryan quickly shuffled over to the child.

"D-do you need something?" he inquired nervously. Faye nodded.

"Yeah! Bend over, quick!"


"Just do it!" demanded Faye. Bryan sighed, then bent over, his back parallel with Faye's face. The little girl leaped up onto Bryan's back and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Up, up!" she commanded. Bryan did as she said, rising back up, grunting at the new weight. Emma wagged her tail curiously. Once Bryan was back to his full height, Faye scrambled to stand on his shoulders. From Bryan's shoulders, she could she the top shelf. There perched a stuffed white dove. It has odd markings on it, but it also had a tight looking golden ring around its neck. It was the glimmering thing Faye had seen earlier. Faye reached out and gently took the dove from the shelf.

A sense of breathlessness came over Faye, now that the toy was in her hands. She would have stared at it forever, had her human ladder not spoken up.

"Uhm, kid? Did you get what you were looking for? My shoulders are cramping up..." Bryan groaned. Faye merely nodded, then climbed down Bryan's back and landed on her feet.

"Thanks..." she mumbled, gripping the dove.

"You're welcome..." Bryan choked out, rubbing his shoulders.
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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"]OOC: Master Korey? I can has promotions? *winks at Des*

I continued looking at the models, and it seemed like everyone was mingling with each other. Not my style. People wasn't something I did well. I was a loner by nature and by choice. In my experience, people were hideous, savage and you have to step on a few if you ever have to get anywhere.

I wandered aimlessly around the store and saw a figurine that seemed to stand out from the others. I picked it up and looked at it. It was some sort of Roman warrior or something. He was clothed in sword and shield, with armor covering his body and capped off with a helmet adorned in crimson. It seemed very cool for what it was.

"Ahhhh found something you liked eh?" The old man asked.

"Yeah, this guy's pretty cool. How much for him?"

"Sorry kid, that one's not for sale."

"Well, gramps, it doesn't look like buisness is booming right now. So how about it? Five bucks sound fair?"

"Can't you hear right? I said no sale."

"10 bucks then. Or you can continue on your merry way."

"Somethings aren't for sale. That one happens to be something very special to me."

I wasn't about to give in to this old man. I had dealt with some punks in my time. Our argument had spilled into the ears of the entire store. I felt a tug on my shoulder and a voice coming from behind me.

"Please stop. He's already made it clear that he doesn't want to sell it."

I shrugged the hand off of my shoulder. "Beat it, kid. This doesn't concern you."

Then the phantom hand spun me around. This person had some guts, I'll give them that. I turned, expecting to see some imposing figure. But all I saw was some redheaded girl with an expression of disgruntled anger on her face.

"Listen, you. I am not a child and I don't appreciate being called one. Got it?"

"Well you listen now, babe. Unless you have the courage to take a few swings, I suggest you let daddy talk with the crazy old man. Okay Pumpkin?" I replied with the smuggest of grins.

Red didn't take that with a grain of salt, because her hand rose to meet my face. I snatched it out of the air, inches before it struck me.

"Mm. What do we have here?" I said with a blank expression on my face, taking a drag of my cigarette. I held her wrist tight enough to where she wouldn't break free. I blew the smoke into the air lazily, and smirked. She struggled to get her hand free, but I wasn't about to let go. I took off my sunglasses and peered right into her eyes.

"You definitely have balls, babe. I like that. It'd be a shame to have to hurt you. So run along now, before that happens."

With that, Red took control back of her hand. She glared at me, but didn't utter a word. I motioned for her to run along. She went to another part of the store, and I turned back to Grinner.

"Alright, old man. I'm not taking no for an answer. This guy is leaving with me, whether you like it or not. You can either get richer, or be down one toy."[/FONT]
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[B]OOC to Steph:[/B] :animeblus Embarrassing. I think it was the comparison to the dolls that threw me. I have changed all offending items. I'm sorry.

[B]OOC to Korey:[/B] Stop winking at people who aren't around. It's off-putting. And why do I get the feeling that you and I are destined for another RP skirmish?

The red-haired girl snatched her hand back from the thug. Nick's heart was racing in his chest, and his knees felt weak. This is what the adrenaline always did to him when he was brought into contact with conflict.

He was fully awake now; the lethargy of just moments before had been replaced with anger, indignation, and shame.

[I]I'm just standing here,[/I] he thought to himself incredulously. [I]I'm just standing here, letting that jackass do whatever he pleases![/I]

The girl, having freed herself, stormed away from the rude man and Mr. Grinner. She knelt down, picked up one of the boxes she had been studying, and stomped over to the counter. There she sat at a stool, visibly angered, trying to calm herself down as she waited to be served.

Nick decided to take his chances. Carrying with him the revolutionary soldier, which gave him the appearance of actually having business at the counter, he positioned himself behind the girl. She looked up briefly to see who had walked up behind her, and quickly looked back down again. Her breathing was still rapid from her altercation with the man.


The girl looked up, clearly perplexed.

[B]"Excuse me?"[/B]

Nick was so embarrassed that he could have kicked himself in the face.
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((Oh this is going to be an interesting group of people, oh yes.))
"Excuse me."
Geoff turned and Bryan gave him a heavy shove backwards, watching as he stumbled over the shelves and toys, caught off guard by the push. Bryan had a size advantage on all levels over this guy, but he didn't really feel like fighting in Grinner's shop. Plus, his shove simply caught the guy off guard, he had no idea if he would be able to win in a fight. Bryan's heart was racing, but he wouldn't show it. No one talked that way to Grinner when he was around.
"Listen up kitten, just because you can't stand to look at yourself in the mirror because you failed at life doesn't mean you should take it out on good people. Toy's not for sale, and if you feel like threatening people, how about threatening me?"
Geoff gave a laugh as he regained his balance.
"Well, look whose got some balls! Showing off for Red? Or maybe you just want to feel like a man for once in your life?"
Bryan gave an annoyed quirk of his brow, Emma giving a low growl as her hair stood up along her back.
"Think you can take me and my pooch before the 'crazy old man' calls the cops on you?"
"Hell yeah."
Grinner stepped between the two, holding up his hands.
"Hey! Both of you stop now! Bryan, let me handle this, ok?"
Bryan didn't move, staring at Geoff solidly over Grinner's shoulder. The owner of the toy shop faced Geoff.
"Fine, I'll let you have the soldier for five if you get out of my shop!"
"Bryan, I'm handling this. Not everything needs to be solved by violence. If he wants the toy that badly, I'll part with it to make sure neither of you get hurt."
Grinner laid a hand on Bryan's shoulder and gently guided him away. He then turned to Geoff and gestured towards the register.
"Five bucks, it's all yours. Just pay and get out."
Bryan snorted and walked back over to the toys, tugging Emma next to him. He hated guys like that. Usually he wouldn't have bothered, but his complete disrespect for Grinner was enough to make him interfere. He placed a hand on the shelf, tapping his fingers rapidly over the wood as he stared angrily into the eyes of a doll. It took him a moment before he realized the doll he was staring into was a clown. He picked it up slowly, turning it over in his hands, the incident completely wiped from his mind as he stared intently into the black crescents of the clown doll.
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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"]OOC to Mykul: The Desbreko is all around us, good sir.

IC: I slipped Grinner the five-er and made my way towards the exit. All eyes were on me. I looked around and saw pooch-boy, Red, NerdBoy and Little Miss Sunshine all glaring at me, with malice in their eyes. I laughed as I lit up another cig and took a long drag. I looked back at pooch-boy and blew some smoke in his direction.

"You watch yourself pooch boy, you may just find yourself up shit's creek without a paddle."

"As if, moron."

"You talk awful big for someone who can't approach someone like a man."

"Now boys, I thought I said to stop." Grinner responded, obviously agitated.

I gave a chuckle and smirked as I exited. Red and NerdBoy were exchanging words. I decided to break up their little party. I stepped in front of NerdBoy right as he was saying his name.

"Hey there. Nick huh? Mind if I chat up Red for a sec?"


"Didn't think so." I interrupted "So Red, I feel real shook up about grabbin you like that. How about dinner at my place some time?"

"You wish." She snapped back. I grinned.

"Your loss toots."

I looked back at Nick, who was obviously flabbergasted at what I just did. I shot him a defiant grin.

"Yup, that just happened sport. Why don't you take this and grab some confidence to talk to a lady ." I said as I slipped him a five.

With that I exited Mr. Grinner's store and headed back to my apartment.[/FONT]
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[color=darkred]I resented the way he called me Red. I hated it, and I let him know in my glare. I also didn't appreciate how loose he was with his language around the little girl. He was a little too bold and I aimed to knock him down a peg when I saw him next. I watched him unblinking as he exited the shop, and then turned back to Nick. He really was cute, and I felt a little more inclined towards him after seeing the other guy's display of attitude.

"[b]Nice to meet you, Nick. I'm Phedre.[/b]"

The name rolled off my tongue, soft, inviting. I hadn't meant for it to, but the way I'd said his name had made him blush. "[b]And I would be happy to join you for dinner. How about tonight?[/b]"

Nick seemed a little disoriented; this was supposed to be his job. He jumped in. "[b]Y-yeah. How about at my apartment?[/b]"

This sounded bold for him, so I accepted without a second thought. His face flushed with pleasure, so I turned away, my anger cooling finally. I held up the music box, watching Grinner's face. He saw what I held, and a myriad of emotions passed through his eyes in a matter of seconds; other than fear - [i]odd[/i], I thought - I couldn't place any of them.

"[b]I'm sorry, I should have taken that one down.[/b]"

This was getting annoying. "[b]Why? It's beautiful and in amazing condition. I'd be willing to pay you almost anything for this.[/b]"

My voice was soft, persuasive. I really, [i]really[/i] wanted that music box. I wasn't sure why, but it was almost as if I needed it.

"[b]It...it...[/b]" He couldn't seem to come up with a good excuse. "[b]I need to do some work on it.[/b]"

I wrinkled my nose. "[b]Like I said, it's in fantastic condition. Look, I know that guy was a jerk, but you really don't have to not sell to me.[/b]"

I could see conflict in the old mans face. Softly I murmured, "[b]Please? How much do you want for it?[/b]"

Mr. Grinner sighed, and then replied, "[b]Twenty five. Are you sure?[/b]"

I nodded and fished around in my bag for my wallet. I pulled out a twenty and a ten, and handed them to him. "[b]Keep the change. I really appreciate this; it is a beautiful piece of work.[/b]"

He nodded silently, still looking dubious about his decision.

I turned back to Nick, who had been quiet. "[b]Pick me up about...sixish? I'm rooming with Mrs. Abernathie, over on Timmons drive. The White Rabbit, that's the inn.[/b]"

He nodded, eyes still a little wide. He was so infernally cute! I waved, stashing the music box in my bag, and headed for the market to grab the onions. On the way back, I couldn't help but think about the tall, gorgeous jackass that had neatly deflected my punch. I hated the way it felt, but it had turned me on a little. Devan had always laughed because I had liked to be dominated and he knew it. I kept coming back to those shockingly gorgeous purple eyes, and the tight grip on my wrist. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts; I was determined to have a good time with Nick, and Mr. Tough Guy could go screw himself.[/color]
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Faye glared at Geoff as he left the store. Well, she glared on the outside, but inside she was quivering like a leaf in the breeze. She was terrifyed that that rude guy had grabbed a lady, and Faye knew nice boys weren't supposed to do that. She was terrifyed that that guy had been so mean to Mr. Grinner. She was terrifyed that that guy would have fought with her human ladder. And most of all, she was terrifyed because Geoff reminded her of all the bullies in her class that were so cruel to her. Faye clung to the stuffed dove in her hand like a security blanket as these thoughts raced through her mind. Faye must have looked positively pathetic, because the Bryan guy tapped her shoulder.

"Hey, are you okay?!" he asked, sounding worried. Faye just shook her head no and started to bawl like a baby. Mr. Grinner came over and pat her head.

"Come now, there'll be no tears in my shop, Ms. Fawn. Say, have you found someone to keep your other animals company. Faye sniffed and nodded, lifting up the dove. Mr. Grinner's eyebrows furrowed together at the sight of what Faye had chosen. "I'm sorry, Faye. I can't sell you that one." he mumbled sadly.

"W-why *sniffle* NOOOT?!" Faye sobbed, crying even harder than she was before. Mr. Grinner seemed to almost jump out of his skin at the loud cry. Emma started to howl along with the little girl, making Bryan jump as well.

"Okay, okay! Tell you what, you can have it! Just please stop crying, Faye!" Mr. Grinner sighed. Faye sniffed and smiled.

"H-how much?" she asked shyly.

"Didn't you hear me? I said you can "have" it. Now, scurry along, I've still got other customers waiting." smiled Mr. Grinner. Faye gave a squeal and leaped up to give Mr. Grinner a hug. Then, she went rushing out the store, cuddling the toy dove.
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Bryan stared at the clown doll intently, having focused back onto it after seeing the kid burst into tears.
"Hey Grinner..."
"...oh come on! Are you all going to choose the toys I don't want to sell you?!"
"Oh come on, this thing is awesome! Big old clown doll! Give you 45 bucks for it!"
"Look, Bryan, these things belonged to some kids who didn't make it in the fire back in 82! They have sentimental value."
Usually, Bryan would have left the issue at that. But something about that clown. He HAD to have it, there was no alternative. He looked up at Mr. Grinner.
"I'll take good care of it. 50 bucks?"
The old man looked at him helplessly.
Bryan smiled and patted him.
"The kids would want the toys to be used, if it makes you feel any better."
The old man rang Bryan up, and watched him walk outside, the clown tucked under his arm. Grinner turned to Nick.
"I suppose you have something of mine that I don't want to sell you but you just have to have? Such a peculiar morning..."
Bryan walked down the street, the feeling of the clown in his possession giving him a strange warmth in his chest. Emma trotted at his side as the pair wandered for a little ways, then turned to head back to the house. Bryan grinned wide, for some reason he was feeling really, really happy.
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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"]Coming back home to my run-down, piece of shit apartment wasn't the nicest way to end the day, but it was definitely a welcome sense of familiarity compared to what went on today. I took out my Roman guy and looked at him, and grinned.

"You'll be my good luck charm," I said to the lifeless toy.

Then I heard a shrill scream come from the street. I peered from my blinds and saw none other than Red running down the streets, being chased by some punks who thought she was an easy score for a few bucks.

"Is she stupid or something?" I sighed as I watched her run.

I lazily put on my coat and opened the window to access the fire escape. Helpful little trick if I ever had to do some police dodging. They practically knew when I had to sneeze by now. Not that I ever committed any crimes or anything, but I was well known. I slid down the ladders and made my way towards the punks that were chasing after Red.

I walked for about a block, not really taking any special consideration towards getting there in time. It's pretty much a well known fact that you don't go near East Benista at night. That's when all the schmucks are out. Myself included.

I peered around a corner and saw the punks harassing Red. These guys were just low-level, nameless punks. Probably haven't even done anything besides pickpocket helpless old ladies for their purses.

"Look girl, I ain't about to ask you again. Give me the purse or I'll have to cut ya." Thug 1 said, brandishing a small pocket knife.

"No! Leave me Alone!" Red responded.

"You know, you really shouldn't talk back to the guy with the knife in his hands Red," I shouted "This isn't the time to be ballsy."

Red and her merry band of assailants looked over at me. The losers then turned their wet-behind-the-ears attention spans to me. There were about 5 of them. Even for a bunch of losers, this was too many losers for one simple pickpocket job. They weren't out just for a quick score of cash.

"Who the hell are you?" one dumbass was so bold as to say.

"Me? Oh I'm just watching. Carry on, boys..."

Red looked at me with a look of sheer terror.

"Although...if you try to hurt Red here, I'm not so sure I'll be just watching."

"Oh so you think that you can take us on huh, tough guy?"

I lit a cig and took a few drags.

"The real question is, do you think you can take me?"

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" one shouted.

These punks were too easy to manipulate. Easy to taunt them. Just say the right things and they go off. They approached me, with knives in hand. I laughed as I cracked my neck and took my Roman guy in my hands. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. But when I opened my eyes, I couldn't see anything. I rubbed my eyelids, thinking that I had caught something in them. Still nothing.

"What the hell?" I said.


'Great. I can't see now.' I thought to myself. This was it. I couldn't possibly take these guys alone without seeing them. But to my surprise, I could hear their footsteps loud and clear as they rushed me. I felt the air rushing from their knives as they swiped at me. I dodged the blades as best I could, until I felt the cement of the wall behind me against my back.

I felt the knife coming towards me, but I couldn't react in time. Punks like this always go for the belly first. I threw my hands down to meet the blade and to my surprise, I caught an arm. I gripped the arm tight, and then I felt and heard the sound of bones snapping.

"AAHHHHHH!!!" the attacker shrieked.

What was happening now? I barely gripped the guy. But I wasn't about to let him go. I swung for his face and heard it connect, again with a thundering crunch to accompany it.

"What the? He's not human!!!" The others screamed as they ran away.

And then, just like that...I could see again. But what I saw wasn't exactly what I was expecting. The guy I just leveled's face was punched in, like he had been hit by a semi truck to the face. His nose was broken and blood was profusely bleeding from his face.

I saw Red shivering in the corner, head tucked between her knees. She was dressed to kill, which probably made her stand out further to those punks. Black dress with blue sequens right below the bust line, matching black heels and a pearl necklace.

"Hey Red. You alright?"

She peered up at me with a sense of relief, but was still terrified.

"Your voice not work? Are you ok?"


"Are you stupid or something? Girl like you shouldn't be walking around this part of town alone at night."

"I didn't have a ride, so I had to walk."

I sighed.

"Where you going? I'll walk you there."

"No thanks." She said with an indignant stare. She still didn't appreciate being referred to as Red.

"Well toots, you can either go with me or be chased down again. Your call"

She looked off into the distance and then sighed, as to give in to my request.

"My name isn't Red or toots, by the way. I'm Phedre"


"Well Geoff, thank you for saving me."

"Psh, don't flatter yourself. If I wasn't so ashamed at your stupidity, I wouldn't have lifted a finger."

She stared at me again. "What's your problem?"

"I'm not the one with problems, Miss 'Istalkthestreetsatnightbymyself'"

"Well I'm headed to a friend's house, if you must know."

"NerdBoy Nick, I'm assuming?"

"How did you?"

"I may be a prick, but I'm not stupid. NerdBoy has the hots for you."

Her face blushed.

"It's just Dinner!"

"Then why be so defensive?"

"I'm not being DEFENSIVE!"

We argued all the way out of East Benista. You would have sworn I had known the chick for a while, with the way we argued.[/FONT]
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"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! --here, here! --it is the beating of his hideous heart!" A dark smile crept across her cheeks as she finished the line. Closing the old book, Eden hugged it close to her chest and ran down the large hill on the outskirts of town.

The sun was just setting beyond the horizon as she entered the store. The old toys sat silently on the shelves, years of forgotten memories trapped inside a dusty shell. The emptiness of the store was almost surprising, her own memories always consisted of many children swarming the old toy store back in the city. Though, it being so late was the likely reason. Most people didn't enter at closing time.

"My my, I didn't expect to have any visitors at this hour." The old man appeared from the dimly lit back room, a small cloth in one hand, and a glass egg in the other. His smile was very sweet, with experience of the years hidden beneath it.

" I know. I was heading to the library when I noticed the store was still open. I thought I could look around a bit if you don't mind."

" I was just about to close shop, but I suppose I can make an exception for you...hehe.." His laugh was hoarse and brittle. " Hmm... what do you have there?"

Eden looked down at her worn book and handed it to the man. " I love Edgar. His works are very inspirational for my art." She watched the man examine the book curiously. After a few moments he looked up.

" May I inspect this further while you take a look around?"

" Sure, just don't drop it. It's very old."

"I can tell. Don't worry, I'll take good care of it." With that he walked to his back room and closed the door.

She wandered along the aisles of antiques with a large smile on her face. Her love for the past was unmatched amongst her peers. She collected many old things from books to dolls. That book however, was her favorite possession. Scanning the shelves cautiously for something of interest, she found nothing. Returning to the counter, she peeked at the back door and waited. She was about to yell to the old man when something caught her eye. Amidst a pile of stuffed animals, a single ripped wing poked from under them all.

Hesitantly tugging at the wing, she revealed the abandoned animal from the pile. To her approval, it was a stuffed bat. Immediately squeezing the bat between her arms, she smiled happily. After a few minutes the old man exited the back room and walked up to her. Noticing the bat, he sighed.

"It seems everyone has been drawn to the troublesome toys today. I suppose you "have" to have that little guy right?" Handing the book back to her, he smiled.

Eden laughed a little and grabbed the book. " I wouldn't say that, but I do feel slightly convicted to patch up this little skully bat. He seems very lonely.."

" I was planning on fixing him soon, but it seems I lost him amongst the other toys. I love the book by the way. A book that old in such good condition could sell for a high price. Where did you find it?"

" Well...before I moved here, I would go to the library every night. Over the years I gained a close friendship with the librarian there. Eventually, once I finished the books I was interested in, he showed me to the basement, where hundreds of antique books were stored. After finding this book, I fell in love with it, and when the librarian retired, he gave it to me."

"Hmmm, I'll make you a deal. You allow me to keep that book here to read and study, and I'll give you that bat."

" I'm not sure...it means alot to me."

"Oh no. I didn't mean forever, just until I'm finished with it, then I'll gladly give it back to you my dear. So?"

After thinking a moment, she answered. " Alright, I can trust you." Handing the book to the old man, she started to walk out. " I'll see you around Mr.?

" Grinner, and I will look forward to it young lady. Be careful out there."

Waving good-bye, Eden hugged her bat and started towards home.
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[B]OOC:[/B] We seem to have frittered off into the evening without me acquiring my toy. Never fear. I always come prepared.

Nick was bustling about his apartment, making sure that everything was looking great for his dinner date. He had already swept the entire place twice and dusted all of the furniture. Panic had even driven him so far as to put a nice cloth and two candles on his dining room table. However, once he realized how pathetic this setup looked in his small apartment, he quickly stowed these items away again.

Now nick stood in the middle of the small living room, hands on hips, nodding his approval. He made his way to his bedroom, stripping off his clothes as he went. As he threw his jacket onto his desk chair, he heard a strange clunk. Slightly confused as to what hard item had made the noise, he picked up the jacket and checked the pockets. A small moan of embarrassment and exasperation escaped his throat.

He had taken the toy soldier from Mr. Grinner's store without realizing it. He was an unwitting shoplifter! Nick groaned again, rubbing his eyes with his palms.

[I]This has not been my day.[/I]

Nick took the small tin soldier from the jacket pocket and held it in his hand. The feeling of electricity that he had experienced earlier was still there. It was a bit disconcerting, really.

[I]Has it gotten stronger?[/I] Nick wondered to himself. Just as these words entered his mind, a sudden and extreme pain shot up his arm and overtook his body. Nick yelled and threw himself to the floor. The pain was coming from the soldier in his hand! Screaming, he tried to fling it from his hand, but the soldier seemed glued to his skin. It was killing him, it was maiming him. His body thrashed. Spit flew from his mouth as his head jerked from side to side. His skin was on fire. His bones were turning in their sockets.

Finally, when he could take no more, when a wordless desire for death entered his tortured mind, the soldier relinquished its grasp on Nick's poor body. Panting, practically sobbing, Nick threw the trooper against the wall. It came to rest in a pile of dirty clothes.

Completely at a loss for any rational thought, Nick succumbed to gravity and spread himself on the bedroom floor, feeling completely drained of energy. The release of pain had left his body in a deep state of fatigue.

Then there was a knock at the door. The previous scenario had completely wiped away the memory of his dinner date.

[I]Shit! I'm not even dressed, for God's sake![/I]

There was another knock on the door. [B]"Coming!"[/B] nick called. He raised himself off the floor, only to be further astonished.

Either his muscles had been turned to mush from the toy soldier's surprise attack, or his bones had turned to iron. His limbs were like weights. Standing uneasily, Nick examined his arms. They seemed fine.

He exited his room and made his way to the living room door. As he walked, he tripped over a loose power plug and hurtled headlong into his armchair. He held out his arms, expecting to catch himself on it.

Instead it splintered like a Popsicle stick beneath him. Nick found himself once again lying on the floor, atop a heap of broken wood.


Another knock at the door.
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[FONT="Century Gothic"]Thanks to Nurse Asrid, I got out of the car and into my wheelchair okay. Benista brought back many bad memories for me, but despite all of that it was good to be home. I took a deep breath and smiled.

"It's good to be home, isn't it Jasna?" Asrid asked with a smile on her face too.

I just nodded and she began to push me along as the car drove off. She hummed a tune softly, and since it was familiar to me as well I joined her. Soon though, the chair came to a sudden stop. I looked up to her to ask what happened, but she seemed to be in another world.

"Hold on Jasna, I have a treat for you. Close your eyes, dear."

I did as she said and closed my eyes as she started to move me forward once again.

A little while later, she told me I could open my eyes. I did and gasped in surprise. There was almost too much to take in. We were in a toy shop that was filled with both very old and very new toys. However, it was the very old toys that caught my attention the most. They were the kind that you couldn't see anywhere, unlike the new ones. Asrid rolled me up to the front counter where an old man was looking through a book. His appearance was unlike anyone that I had seen, and for some reason he reminded me of a character from an old story. He smiled at both of us.

"Ah, Asrid. It's nice to see you again. And I see you brought a friend.

Asrid smiled and nodded. Apparently this was only my first time in this shop, and not hers as well.

"Yes, Grinner. This is Jasna. We're going to look around a little before you close if that is alright with you."

After introducing myself, Mr. Grinner gave us permission to look around before he closed. However, it wasn't long before I set eyes on what I wanted. The strangest porcelain figure I had ever seen. It was a porcupine dressed as if he were at a masquerade ball, yet he was sitting down for tea. The strangest thing was though, it had fallen into my chair, like it wanted me to choose it out of all the other toys. It touched me and I dazed off. Soon though, I realized that Asrid was asking me if I had found what I wanted. I nodded and she brought me back to the front counter.

"Here you go, Mr. Grinner, we'll get this one." Asrid said as I handed her the figure.

A sad look came over his face, and my heart seemed to drop.

"I'm sorry, Asrid, it's not for sale. It might look like porcelain, but it's actually made out of alabaster. Very rare and holds a lot of memories for me."

Asrid frowned and I knew she would plead my case. However, to my surprise she started to push me out of the store and told us that we should go. She didn't even say goodbye to Mr. Grinner. And being surprised and upset at the time, neither did I. When we got outside though, Asrid told me she would just be a few minutes. I nodded, thinking that she just had to say goodbye.

A few minutes later, Asrid came back out of the store. She pushed me along once again and started humming the same tune. This time, I did not join in. She held the porcupine figurine in front of me and then dropped it in my chair. I looked at it and laughed. After thanking her, we both hummed the tune again and headed for home.[/FONT]
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Bryan sat on the bench near the fountain in the middle of town. Emma had her head resting on his knee, eyes shut as he slowly scratched the top of her head, staring at the clown doll balanced on his other leg. His sunglasses slid down the tip of his nose slightly. From the corner of his eye, Bryan saw a strange blurred shadow sitting next to him on the bench. He flinched, head snapping towards the shadow. He blinked, instead staring across the plaza at a girl in a wheelchair. He shook his head, sliding his glasses up and down, still looking over at her.
"Huh...must have been a glare or something..."
As Nick slowly rose from the ground, he noticed a shadowed figure in the corner of his room, about the height of a young girl. He blinked, turning to get a better view, and there was nothing there, just a corner and the pile of clothes with the toy soldier sitting on top. Nothing there.
As Eden headed back towards her home, from the corner of her eye she saw a flitting movement in the reflections of the store windows. As if someone was walking next to her. Turning around, she was alone. Nothing around her.
((I'm not totally sure where everyone else is in town, so to the others I didn't throw a shadow at, have your characters briefly glance a shadow somewhere.))
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Faye was lying on her bed, snuggling with her new dove toy. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw a shadow. Faye whipped her head to the side and saw nothing but her open closet door. Automatically thinking there was a shadow monster in her closet, she ran from the room, dove in hand, shrieking.
Sorry this was so short... I'll update later, but for now, I have to go post in another RPG or Lunar with slaughter me.:animedepr
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[color=darkred]OOC: Sorry for the late post. Was trapped at a friends house due to snow.

IC: I tapped my foot, hoping nervously that I had the right apartment. Geoff was standing across from me, looking me up and down in a snide, over-confident fashion. He opened his mouth to say something, then froze, his eyes glued to the place over my shoulder. I whirled, and suddenly, I saw it, too. The vague outline of a little girl, in the place where the shadow should be and then - nothing. My eyes widened, and I felt my heart flutter in my chest like a caged bird.

"[b]G-geoff-[/b]" I took a couple steps back, involuntary, and he caught me as I stumbled in my too high heels. His hands went easily around my waist, fitting, and I felt my heart flutter harder. The feel of his body, strong and warm against my back, was almost enough to make me forget the shadow girl - but not quite. I pushed away, hugging myself tightly, and then knocked on Nick's door again.

"[b]C-coming![/b]" Slowly, carefully the door opened. He looked like he was afraid to touch the knob, and was watching me apprehensively. His eyes widened slightly, and I wondered if I'd overdone my outfit.

"[b]Come in, Phedre.[/b]" I saw him glance at Geoff, his expression momentarily confused.

I turned, and said icily, struggling to keep my voice clear of fear, "[b]You can go now. I think I will be safe here, thank [i]you[/i].[/b]" Then I entered Nick's house and slammed the door in Geoff's face.[/color]
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