Living in the moment was a gift most of the time. When you start looking back or forward that’s when the anxiety hits. However the passed always catches up and the future is never more than seconds away. Cassandra was usually good at keeping to the moment. The passed was nothing she needed to relive, but at times it caught up to her. The blonde could find herself in agony over her fiancés death, it sneaked up on her untriggered or she didn’t know what triggered it. It could be at night, at work, standing in the store.

The blonde had never gotten time to grieve his death. It didn’t feel like the right time during her captivation and after she’d been freed along with the other celestials. Grieving over 6 decades later seemed a little strange especially since she the only one who remembered him as his only family had been her and his sister who she read had died of cancer a few years back. It was a sad thought that her fiancé now was only a faint memory a character in her mind, like jack in titanic unknown to the rest of the world but historic in hers.

Today was one of those days when the grief of the lost of him bubbled up and pain hit her like waves hit the sand. Luckily she was at work and could hide her pain behind the people they encountered. It wasn’t a lasting solution sooner or later she would have to face her grief and move on but she afraid that that it was a very dark road to go down. It could very well end in her seeking justice with the aliwards for their actions and with the current situation between them she couldn’t afford a side step. Not if it risked the other celestials. Had it been just herself the choice had been easy.

The female, marked with grief, was studying her ringfinger where her engagement ring used to sit but now had been replaced with a tattoo in its honor. So she would remember always remember him and his sacrifice for as long as she may live.

As always when the star felt her thoughts wander Cass went out for a run. Letting her muscles work had always been a therapy for her. From the beginning it had just been a necessary task to check off the list but over the years she found herself at the gym more often pressing her body to lift heavier and run faster. It was necessary to keep in good shape with her profession life depended on it. Nowadays with modern day technology one could run listening to music or podcast which could also help turn out the resilient thoughts. After running up a hill the blonde stopped a few seconds to catch her breath. It was early morning and the track was alost empty actually the only one she could see was a lonely male that sprinted through the dark.

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One thing that Caleb liked to do when he needed to clear his mind was to go for a run. It was good to get the physical exercise and also find new places in the city that he may not have explored over the last few years. Although he'd been on many different adventures, he still had a tingling sense for places off the beaten trail. Plenty of those places were inside the city: abandoned warehouse, old homes, and hidden alleyways that held old parts of history which both appealed to his sense of macab mystery and beauty. There were multiple throughout Evermore, but the old mill in the center of the city had great lighting, old exposed beams and brick, and most importantly...quiet. He could be there without anyone finding him for many interrupted hours at a time which was key to processing. He could get away, but still be close to people and spend time with one of his many easels and paint stashes. Sometimes, others stumbled upon them and left him messages, he liked that too. It was the middle of the week, however, and eventually duty called to everyone. His was in the form of teaching class to a group of middleschoolers every Thursday and unfortunately for the usually punctual Parisian, he was running late. Luckily, kids tended to be pretty forgiving. However, that was why as he was making a sharp turn around a corner, paying more attention to the Alphabet Aerobics that jammed through his earbuds, exiting the alley that lead off one of his favorite work spaces, he ran sharply into another person. 

The collision led them both straight to the ground, and only after a moment to recover his senses did Caleb see in the evening light that he'd run into a young woman. "I apologise." He stood, brushing the soot from his jeans. "I was not paying much attention."

There was not a better day to be running late. Literally and figuratively.

The collision brought the celestial back from her trip down memory lane, a walk  she’d been doing more often lately. It was the opposite of what she’d expected, wasn’t it suppose to get easier with time? That was what they told the victims of losing someone. Time heals all wounds. So far it hadn’t done a great job and felt rather infected instead of healed as it was supposed to after so many years. Sometimes she wished that the memories would just fade, a shameful thought. A thought that showed weakness. Bearing the pain of his lost shouldn’t be so hard. 

”No no it was my fault entirely, I was lost in my own mind” Cassandra apologised watching the male concerned hopping she hadn’t hurt him. She really had to let go of the past and get back into reality. Her work demanded her full attention and couldn’t risk her attention being divided. What if the next time her mind slipped weren’t while running but instead while she was driving. The consequences could be devastating. 

”I hope I didn’t wound you” The blonde said concerned, feeling guilty.  

 It wasn't very often that he ran into people on his runs, especially since the routes he took were usually through the woods instead of the city. However, today was clearly the exception to the rule. It had once been a difficult thing to start getting up every morning and exercising, especially when he'd first moved to the city, but it had slowly become a thing of pattern and comfort that reflected the new change in his mind and living. It had been nearly three years now since he'd lost the first love of his life and moving on had been the hardest thing that he had ever done; but now, he was able to wake up with a smile on his face and add good into the world around him. Caleb shook off his dizziness and dusted off his pants as he stood; he remembered his first days where he'd walked to the small church graveyard everyday, completely unaware of the world around him. There was something familiar in this young woman's eyes. She seemed, perhaps, a bit lost herself. "Do not worry about it. It can happen to anyone."

He wound his headphones around his fingers, tilting his head. "Are you sure you're alright?" 

There was rarely any one out when Cass was out on her morning jog. The whole town seemed to sleep this early in the morning and only the peaceful humming from some birds and the bounding of her heart kept her company. However the times she did work out with people around it wasn’t as if she socialised anyways. They saw her focus and kept out of the blondes way. Before meeting her fiancée gymming and running had been a team sport. The star had always enjoyed keeping her body strong and along with someone else it was easy to cheer each other on. However that had come to an end when Simon took over her training plan as he stated that it only distracted her.

”Are you alright?” His words threw her off. It wasn’t a question she got often. Sometimes by a fellow faction member when they questioned her sanity the times she had suggested an adrenaline filled adventure. Mostly she was the one asking after saving someone from a burning building. Or from a crashed car. It was expected. To hear their stories helped her forget about her own messed up past.

”Yeah I’m good” she said after a few seconds of silence.

There was something about the way that Cassandra looked as he asked the question that made Caleb recall his first few months in Evermore. He'd practically walked around in a haze as he adjusted to life without his partner. He remembered many times that he'd walked into people, too. He tilted his head as her reply took longer than it should have. In the past few years, he'd come so far along on his journey of grief; perhaps, now was his chance to payback some of the good that he'd been given. "Are you sure?" 

Caleb's question was quiet and curious, but not too invasive. He was happy to take the time in his day to look out for others. Despite that he was not good with strangers, in general, he tended to have an inkling when someone else was struggling. "You look a little pale, if you don't mind me saying." His eyebrows creased. "Make sure you hydrate after that run."

He shrugged softly. "Coming from a fellow runner, it's easier to get dehydrated than you'd think." 

A confused look coloured Cassandras normally composed face as the male questioned her response. Who even asked twice about once feelings, especially to a stranger you just meet? If not for a shrink but this man didn’t have that aura. As if she was mentally incapacitated. Had she really seemed so out of it while her mind had wandered to a time many decades ago? Also wasn’t a ”How are you” just a curtesy phrase. Something you just said because it was expected of you but not that you really wanted to hear an answer. 

The thoughts swirled around the celestials head as she tried to find the answer the male wished. It was a simple question so it shouldn’t take this much effort to give the male the response he desired. Cassandra was usually very good at telling people what they wanted to hear. She knew what was expected of her even tho she was also good at giving tough love and speaking her mind. Actually biting her tongue was something the blonde had been forced to learn as she climbed the ranks from firefighter to lieutenant and now captain.

The next question threw her off even more. Even tho they were spoken in a friendly tone at all alike the criticising harsh tone her ex had used when giving her advice, or rather demanded her things. ”Thanks I´ll remember” Cass finally said trying to keep the annoyance from her voice, reminding herself that he was just trying to be kind and helpful. Herself wasn’t someone to share her training tips and forcing it upon those she saw struggling at the gym. Maybe if asked but that rarely happened. 

There was awkward silence as the young woman across from him said nothing. Caleb had rarely found himself on the opposite end of that. He’d been quiet himself for many years, but struggling through casual conversation with someone who refused it was very new to him. His brows creased for a half second as he watched her confusion turn into a brief look of resentment. Perhaps, his friendly advice had been more off-putting than he had realized. It was nearly like looking outside in at the person he had once been. He remembered the struggle and his own shortness with people. The way that he’d barely managed to find words at all to convey what was happening in his mind. The human slowly unwound his headphones and placed one of them back into his left ear. The simple beat of the only rap track he’d ever liked quickly bounced back. 

Analytically, I assault, animate things

Broken barriers bounded by the bomb beat

Buildings are broken, basically I'm bombarding

The song was a part of his English assignment in fifth grade. He was the only kid who hadn’t had the courage to join in on singing it with everyone else.  By nature, he’d always been quite shy. The uncomfortable air between them faded as he backed away, plugging the other headphone into his ear. Clearly, it had been a bad idea to interrupt. Not everyone liked the idea of being looked after by a total stranger. Even with all his progress, Caleb still struggled to open up to his friends. Octavia was the only one who saw the full picture of grief and goodness. He had been running late before the detour and was now confronting the possibility of irritated clients. Luckily, the studio was just around the corner and he’d have just enough time to change his clothes and get some water before being bombarded by an enthusiastic class of elementary painters. He gave a sharp wave, as he jogged backwards, bending around the corner. What could he say? If she didn’t want to talk to him, he wasn’t one to force that on anyone. 

The silence grew between them, and not a comfortable one. It was an art being silent together, an art that not many mastered. Cassandra appreciated silence. Her work was always noisy but at least her thoughts were silent. The thoughts of what once were, or the quiet interpretations and expectations she could read from her surroundings. The only other time she got complete silence was when she pushed her body to its limits, pouring all her energy into running faster, lifting heavier or do that last lap. Otherwise Simons voice was always present, commenting, criticising every move she made.  As if she wasn’t good enough at that herself.

The blonde wasn’t very disturbed by awkward silences. It was something you had to get used to as a leading role at the station where everything you said wasn’t very popular. However the male seemed very startled by it. Almost as it harmed him and maybe it did. The celestial realised her attempts of keeping the irritated tone out of her voice had failed as she watched the male reluctantly continue his jog.

What had become of her? Before Simon she had been the bubbly girl making friends everywhere, and now she couldn’t even keep a friendly conversation. A sigh escaped her before her focus once again shifted to her task running. She was just about to leave when her observant eyes noticed a forgotten item. A water bottle with an inscription. Caleb Segal. The star stoped and picked up the small flask it must belong to the male she just shared a monolog with. His frame still visible at the corner of her eye running towards a to her unknown location. her ex fiancees voice cursed inside her head for losing focus, as she started to jog after him. 

Caleb hated conflict. He nearly seemed to live on a different wave-length than others, with his peaceable ways, and steady smile. He hadn’t always been steady. That had taken work. It still took work to wake up in the morning and roll over onto the right side of the bed; but, if he had learned one thing in the past five years, it was to hold onto the good. Slowly, he was getting better at letting what was not meant to be slip away into yesterday. Sunday was typically a day for rest. It had been long ingrained in him after a childhood of mornings in catholic chapels, but today there was work to do. He had been distracted from his work lately. The long nights that he spent awake were less lonely and more lovely, as he spent time with Octavia. He pulled out his spare set of keys and unlocked the door to the studio, closing it behind him. Once inside, Caleb turned the ‘closed’ sign to ‘open’ and pulled the blinds up. Light flooded the room. He was thankful that the studio had a European set up, with an apartment on the level above. It gave him the chance to run upstairs in the fifteen minutes before class and take a record breaking shower, before changing into some smart blue shorts and a gingham button up. He liked to look presentable to his students. The only exception to that rule was that bare feet were always allowed in the studio. 

He ignored his shoes and padded back down the stairs. His favorite student was an eleven-year-old girl named Clara-Lee. She had a vivid imagination and her parents had urged her into art to help her creative impulses have a purpose. He remembered those days. Drawing on walls was still fun, but questionable in the eyes of society, no matter your age. As he entered the front of the building, he was surprised to see not a small blonde clutching a note pad, but a taller, more intimidating one with his water bottle strung from her left hand. 

She had not noticed him yet. He was quiet. Like a cat. It allowed him to observe for a moment as she paced around the studio. 

He always felt like he learned something about people by the piece of art they seemed the most drawn towards. He couldn’t help but notice that the one which seemed to catch the most interest was one of the only pieces left from his first days in Evermore. Painting had been a way to minimize his trauma and this particular canvas, he had never been able to put into storage. 

It was large, about three feet wide and two feet tall. The outer rim was dark black, which faded into a blue ambience of ocean waves. It was not peaceful, however. Right in the center was a loud burst of orange and yellow, inclement, wild. Without even asking, the fact that it was fire was abundantly clear. Inside the flames was the shallow outline of an airplane wing, shattered in two, and splitting the canvas in half. The orange and blue colors came to a stark halt. There was a label at the bottom, “enterrement par le feu” or burial in fire. 

Caleb no longer felt pain in his chest as he watched another person entranced by the same image that had haunted him for years. A twinge of loss? Absolutely. No matter how graceful a death, there was always pain in losing someone you loved. If it was unexpected, that mystery only sunk deeper. It had a way of latching onto the soul. He didn’t want to intrude on her thoughts, but the clock was ticking, and his young student would soon waltz through the door. Caleb quietly cleared his throat, announcing his presence, and positioning his hands in his pockets. “I see that you found one of my favorites.” 

His tone was even. “And are thoughtful enough to return my water. Thank you.” 

He waited for her to speak, wondering if it would be as heated as before. Clearly, she had something personal on her shoulders. He wasn’t one to judge. If anything, as simple as life seems now, Caleb understood. 

It was easy to follow the man, who most likely was named Caleb as the water bottle had revealed, but the athletic female didn’t make any attempts to catch up with him. The blonde kept a steady pace but didn’t have to run far. Only a few blocks away Caleb stoped and disappeared in to a small art shop. Cass wasn’t much for the abstract. She was a practical woman, if she got a task she efficiently completed it. Yes at times solving problems needed out side of the box thinking but when it came to things counted as art the practical star was on thin ice. Photographing and saving moments sharing them online had become a global pandemic the last decade and a new source of power. The firefighter didn’t understand how influencer had so much power. After being in captivation for over half a century she valued living in the moment. 

Cassandra hesitated, should she return the bottle now or after she had finished her workout. After arguing a second with herself the structured part of her the part being edged on by Simon won, as it always did. She continued her run around town keeping a quicker pace than before to avoid her mind from wandering again, prevent from finding herself in another awkward conversation. Sweat was dripping down her face the last kilometre, a shower necessary before returning to the artshop. 

After a quick shower the celestial changed into a pair of jeans and a v-necked white shirt and then she was on her was. The shop was across town from the celestials castle, the place where most celestials lived in unison, so Cass considered taking her car a dark blue BMW. Unlike many of the other celestials the sporty female wasn’t into cars. she’d only gotten the BMW because she’d gotten a great deal on it. Anyhow, it was her free day, she didn’t expect being called in for duty at the station so she decided to walk. 

Half an hour later Cass entered the art shop and directly found Mr. Segal ”Yeah of course, no problem” she said softly hading him the engraved water bottle. ”I’m sorry if I came off as rude before” The star continued before the awkward silence form before spread again. Her apologise sincere. She hadn’t mean to offend him in any way by being socially incompetent. ”I am very focused during my workouts. You surprised me with trying to interact it has been a long time since someone last tried that” She explained hopping he would understand.

They clearly must have both been focused, in order to run into one another at that speed. Typically, the paths that Caleb took around the city were fairly empty in the early morning, but he never minded finding a like minded individual who used exercise to get away from their troubles. Their intial encounter had been a bit of a hit and run, but it was obvious that she hadn't meant to sound so brusque. Caleb took the water bottle back and accepted the good will gesture. He'd barely noticed that he'd left without it. It was normally a bit of an extension to his arm. "Thank you for returning this. It was a graduation gift from my Aunt." He said. 

"Are you new to the city?" He asked, without missing a beat. "I don't think I've seen you around before."

Caleb had now lived in Evermore for over three years. It had become his home quite quickly. "If you'd like, I'd be happy to show you around some of the best hiking trails. There are always new ones popping up. It's one of the best things about living in the middle of nowhere."

Running into things wasn’t a rarity in Cassandras life. Not as literal as this time knocking someone down, usually she had better control over her surroundings but lately glimpses of her pasts had crowded her mind at the most inconvenient times. The female was paid to run into things. Things other people ran from. It wasn’t only fires as the firefighter name suggested most of her work was actually car accidents or other rescue assignments. 

When Caleb told her that he was grateful she had returned his water bottle a gift from his aunt the blonde smiled friendly. Glad she was able to make someone else happy with such a small gesture. Herself didn’t have an item that she was super found of, an item she got nervous without. A result of being captivated without any assurances. It was a relief from what the celestial could tell to not have items of sentimental value. She had seen countless people run back to save stuff they couldn’t imagine to leave behind resulting in themselves almost losing their own lives. Another example was people who couldn’t preform without their lucky charm.

”No, I’ve been here three years or so” The star informed the male. ”But I haven’t been out much” she explained. The first years the stars where so afraid to loose their new found freedom that they barely existed outside the castle where they had their base, scared that an aliward guard lurked around every corner ready to take them back  to isle of Skye. 

”I´d love that” Cassandra was a spontaneous person, even tho she had troubles trusting people due to her background. Hiking had always appealed to her but she hadn’t done a lot of it in evermore. Usually she went out of town. Causing the other Celestials to worry as they knew she couldn’t stay away from trouble. ”It’s a nice shop you have” Cass continued her eyes wandering around the premises. 

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