As she slammed the door for the last time the brunette finally allowed herself to breathe, in and out as she tried to get a handle over her emotions but every time that she tried all that she saw in her mind was them together, together in the bed the two of them shared. She pressed her back against the door and slowly sank down into a ball, her arms hugging around her legs as the tears just started to flow. Dakota had put the last 10 years of her life into this relationship, she had done everything she could to support him through every up and down but now she finally realized, she wasn't enough and she never would be.

A sob wracked through her body as the very thought, lifting her hands to wipe her eyes as though it would stop her eyes from looking puffy. As she pulled it back however all she saw was the black smudge of the make up she had been wearing before everything had gone down. He had begged her to listen but there was nothing that he could say at this point, she'd know for a long time now it was over, she had fallen out of love with him over the months, slowly feeling less connected to him the more he pulled away until she had given up fighting for it. She knew she should have been honest with him but it was just too easy to stay, to pretend like things were perfect when they weren't.

Instead she was now left broken, sitting on the floor of the apartment she shared with him and suddenly every little thing around her felt wrong, like it was out of place in her world now. She closed her eyes letting out another sob to which the room shook a little and a lamp from on the table fell down smashing into pieces. She sighed heavily in frustration forcing herself to pull to her feet to pick up the broken pieces of china but she just ended up throwing them down on the floor, they looked better broken, representing the way she felt right now. She sniffed wiping back another round of tears as she looked around for what else didn't feel right anymore. 

She started with the vase that Bradyn had bought her for her birthday, it was ugly and she had secretly hated it but because he had given her it she had kept it and used it. Grabbing it she held it to her chest for a moment before another wave of emotions came over her and she threw it down on the ground watching as it shattered into pieces all over the floor. She had to admit it gave her a temporary sense of relief, like somehow she could punish him for ripping her heart in two by destroying things that represented him.

She took a moment to catch her breath, she felt so lost, she didn't even know where to turn, she didn't know who to call because all of her friends were Bradyn's friends and they would all just be a reminder of his face. One thing that had stopped coming were the tears though, perhaps she was out of them or perhaps it was just a brief moment. She moved slowly through the apartment, her fingers running over the counter tops, without her ring nearly everything she touched trembled with the shaky remnants of her powers that she never fully gained control over. 

Her eyes stopped as they fell upon a photo upon the table, the two of them were smiling, happy and so in love back them, so very different to where she was now. Dakota couldn't even remember that good time now because everything felt tainted by what he had done and how he had done so knowing that it would hurt her. Her breath was shaky as she picked up to frame in her hands, staring at it as though if she looked at it hard enough she could remember the feeling that was supposed to be attached to it. Instead, as she looked at it the glass shattered in her hands flying in all directions.

She winced a little realizing one of the shared had got embedded in her arm and she pulled it out which triggered her tears to start flowing again. How was she going to cope on her own? Her car needed fixing for the garage next weekend and she didn't even want to think about how she was going to afford to pay rent with her salary. The panic began to set in her chest as she started to face the reality of what was currently happening to her.  She was however caught completely off guard when she heard the sound of a key in the lock and the door to the apartment opening.

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Austin sat on the couch silently, the vibes coming from Bradyn and Dakota were way to weird for him to continue sitting there. So after putting his jacket and boots on, he slipped out the door without a word to them. Bradyn had taken Austin in long ago, the two were like brothers and had been best friends for as long as the Initia could remember, and the day Bradyn took Austin in, he'd met Dakota; the wife of his best friend. Not long after he moved in Austin had taken a liking to Dakota, but he never crossed the line, and always tried keeping his eyes off of her. Anytime they spoke, it normally went through Bradyn, so it was safe to say, Austin and Dakota were only friends because of Bradyn.

Austin hadn't been able to gain employment after being discharged from battle. PTSD had gotten in the way so many times that he eventually stopped trying to get a job, and now was nothing more than a couch surfer in his best friends home, not even knowing how to cook for himself properly. Austin hopelessly went from one place to the next almost every weekend in hopes that someone would notice him, but like any other night tonight was no exception and he'd left with no numbers, and no memories to share with Bradyn of the hot girl who wanted to meet up with him again. That never happened for Austin. And to be frank, it never would. Half the time when Austin left it was to go to a gaming center, where he had came up with a huge idea, and was hoping, praying even for this huge promotion if they accepted the invention he'd came up with.

Never would he have told Bradyn this though, Bradyn was way to masculine and knew nothing about gaming except for the simple joys of playing one which he rarely seen Bradyn do. Rolling his eyes at the mere thought of the mockery he would have recieved from his best friend made the Initia cringe, but quickly he pushed those thoughts aside and after the huge presentation he'd given tonight, he was ready to go home and go to bed. Standing on the sidewalk, Austin dwelled on things he shouldn't have, thoughts that he never should have had in his mind, and ones that he'd never admit to or say outloud; the only thing breaking him free from said thoughts was a cab blowing it's horn to get his attention. After giving the driver directions to Dakota and Bradyn's house, he laid his head against the window sleepily and twiddled his thumbs the entire ride home.

Once the driver pulled up to the house, Austin practically sprang out of the car with happiness, getting away from the smelly old man who drove him home was a relief. Something felt off the moment Austin looked to the door though. And after leaving Bradyn and Dakota and their bad vibes, he couldn't help but wonder what he was about to walk into. Using the key that Bradyn had made for him, he finally opened it, only peeking in at first, only to see glass broken along the floor. Seeing that had scared Austin, he wasn't sure what'd happened but he pushed the door open and ran in; his eyes immediately falling onto a broken Dakota who was typically one of the happiest people you could meet. Clearing his throat, Austin approached her but kept his distance enough not to intrude her personal space. "Dakota? what the hell's going on here?" he questioned, and with widened eyes realized that Bradyn was no where in sight.

"Where is Bradyn? I gotta tell my bestie about the chick I met tonight" he added in an awkward tone of voice, before reaching down to pick up the china broken in the floor. He knew something bad had happened, but his mind was no where near the thought that the two had split up and secretly even though a part of him had wished for a girl like Dakota to waltz into his life, he never would have wanted it to happen this way. "You look like hell Dakota... I knew something was going on when I left but thats why I left, I figured you two needed the privacy. Kinda wished I had stayed now" he expressed, eyeing her for a moment but dropping his gaze back to the broken things scattered around the living room. Placing a hand on her shoulder, which may have been a bad idea, Austin gave her a look that spoke in volumes, just letting her know he was there if she needed to talk; even if his mind did wander to where Bradyn may be right now, unable to help worrying about his best friend also.

The brunette had curled up again, her arms crossing her body onto her shoulders as if she could protect herself from the world by doing so, the truth was that she was scared, scared that she couldn’t live her life without Bradyn, she didn’t even remember the life she had before him properly and that was terrifying to her, not because of him in any part but because somehow she had lost herself along the way. Her attention however was taken by Austin as he walked through the door. The brown eyed diviner just stared at him for a few moments, almost as though she barely recognized him. Her entire body was shaking at this point, completely out of control when it came to the magic flowing inside her which was slowly spiraling out of control.

She heard his words but she didn’t know how to respond to them, somehow like she needed to be embarrassed to admit what happened, on top of that she didn’t know how to tell someone recovering from PTSD that they no longer had a place to stay. She was lost in her own mind not knowing how to form words until he reached over for her shoulder and she pulled away “No don’t!” she exclaimed loudly as she turned away which caused the lights in the room to flicker and then the bulb in the nearest one to blow, shattering more glass onto the floor. “I don’t want to hurt you” she admitted though not she couldn’t even look at him so she stared at the wall blinking away the tears that were welling in her eyes.

She was a mess, she felt so incredibly lost as she looked down to the shattered frame that she still held in her hands and slowly forced herself to turn back towards the male “Bradyn’s gone” she confirmed as she reached out and placed the frame face down on the floor and tried to slow her breathing “I showed him and ‘Sophie’ where the door was after they put their underwear back on” she ran a hand through her unruly curled hair, she knew she looked like hell, she felt like hell and she had no idea what her tomorrow was even going to look like.

“He’s gone and I’m left with shattered glass” her voice cracked but she managed to breathe, hesitantly reaching out to push against the floor and get to her feet, she felt weak, like her whole self had been drained of energy, likely because she had cried so much and from all the outbursts of magic that she couldn’t seem to get a handle over in this state. She finally turned her gaze to meet his blue hues, catching the concern in them. She wanted to force a smile but it seemed pointless now that he had seen her in this state and so she sighed softly “I’m sorry…” she spoke softly “I didn’t want anyone to see me like this” she admitted as she reached up to wipe her eyes again, she didn’t even know what she was going to do now her ring was broken.

Austin couldn't help but stare in silence. He'd never seen Dakota in this state, and he couldn't grasp onto the reason, but somehow seeing her broken tugged at him in ways it shouldn't have. It was difficult to see someone who always wore a smile on their face, now sitting in the floor in despair. Austin was terrible with this sort of thing, the last person he could even consider to be special in his life, happened to be a female who was held prisoner by his own family, a girl that they'd captured before he was even born.

Immediately feeling empty to the thoughts of how he had lived his life, he pushed it away. Right now his main and only concern was Dakota and Bradyn; one his best friend and the other his best friends wife, a woman he'd grown quite used to being around and liked a little more than he was supposed to. In a way, he felt bad because Bradyn was his best friend, he should have never crossed that line. But Austin had crossed that line silently, never once giving any indication that he noticed Dakota more than he should. When she pulled away, Austin didn't expect anything less until she yelled at him, causing the Initia to jump, startled at her lashing out at him. "I..." he started, but couldn't even finish.

The lights flickered when she yelled, and more glass fell to the floor. Austin realized how bad this could get if she didn't calm down, so even though she told him not to touch her, that she didn't want to hurt him, he ignored her warning. "Dakota, look at me." he said hesitantly, preparing for her to go to the extremes right now, but his plan was to keep her from falling off the edge. Looking down to her hands, as she held a broken framed image of her and Bradyn, Austin couldn't help but frown. "I'm sorry Kota, it's going to be okay though. It could always be worse" he stated, being as optimistic as he could in probably the worse situation Dakota's ever been in.

The optimism however escaped Austin when Dakota said she'd shown Bradyn the door after he and a girl named Sophie put their underwear back on. Swallowing harshly, the Initia couldn't believe it. "Wow" was all he could mouth at as a response, "He's gone Dakota, you're right. But you don't have to go through this alone" he added before stepping closer to the Celestial as he noticed how weak she was when she forced herself from the floor. "You're not doing so well Dakota, breathe, cause if you don't you're not going to have an apartment left" he expressed but knew it would probably do no good , but regardless, Austin started breathing to show her how. Breathing in through his nose, he held up three fingers to her, slowly putting each one down until he held up none before letting out the breath he was holding. "Breathe in through your nose, count to three, and let it out. Each time you breathe out, just think of it as you letting go of all the pain you're feeling right now. It's not a permanent solution but just try" he stated, and continued doing it himself.

Hearing her say sorry saddened him even more, "You have nothing to apologize for. and hey, you don't look so bad, even when you're all broken and sad you still look great" he said, showing a faint smile,  'so breathe" he added, as the lights continued flickering, one bulb blowing after the next, which sent his hands up towards her shoulders, only resting his palms on each of them, hoping that she would follow after him as he continued the breathing technique. "I can't believe Bradyn. He's my best friend, but for what he did to you Dakota, he's the dumbest man on earth, you guys seemed so happy" he finished off, and looked up gazing into a set of eyes that were drowning in sadness and betrayal. Austin could only wonder though, where Bradyn had went to even with him hurting Dakota he was worried that his best friend may do something irrational. He knew in spite of what Bradyn had done, that he probably still loved Dakota.He would have been a fool not to.

She didn’t mean to shout at him, she just didn’t know herself right now and she didn’t know how she would handle the guilt if her current spiral caused anyone physical harm. Dakota didn’t trust herself when her powers were let loose, she felt as though she was surrounded by metal spikes and if she so much as twitched they would trigger another explosion of powers she didn’t understand. She let a sigh of frustration escape as she desperately tried to cling to any reality.

His voice however echoed over the top, giving her something to focus on as he spoke, she slowly moved to follow his request meeting his gaze with her teary eyes. She should be going through this alone, it wasn’t even like he liked her, she didn’t even know why he was trying to help her. Regardless he was all she had in that moment and from the look in his eyes, showing concern and perhaps a little fear, she knew she had completely lose control of herself. Her lip trembled as he said things could be worse “Really? Cause it hurts” she pressed her hand against her chest “It hurts so bad” and there was nothing anyone could do or say to take that pain away right now.

Now that she had spoken the words the tears were threatening to start again but instead she balled her hands into fists and then unfurled them a few times, Dakota had dealt with a lot of heartbreak in her life but this one, this one she didn’t even know how to process, she had built a whole life around Bradyn and without him she couldn’t even see the point. Austin’s words however took her attention once again and as she listened to his words she tried to do what he said. Him being there made it easier to keep her attention from thinking about Bradyn which was strange because he was Bradyn’s friend and very little more to her, he had been staying here a while but she was pretty sure this was the first conversation they’d had just the two of them.  “Okay” she spoke, though the voice was weak as she copied him, breathing slowly in through her nose and waiting for him to count it down and then breathing out.

The brunette let out of soft laugh in response to his words “You’re a terrible liar but thanks” she knew she probably looks the worst she probably ever had, her unruly hair falling wildly around her shoulders and her make up smudged and probably staining down her cheeks. She didn’t really care, who did she even have to look good for anymore. Dakota’s initial reaction was to try and shrug off his hands but after a moment she blew out a long breath leaning her head forward. With each breath she felt herself slowly getting control over the powers, like the stormy sea that was raging was slowly clearing. His words were kind but she had known this was coming for a long time now “I guess we were both pretty good at putting on a good face” she admitted in a soft voice that was barely above a whisper.

After a few more breaths she slowly moved back from him surprised to see that the lights had stopped flickering “Well it looks like we’ll have to sit in the dark” she spoke before she realized she had used the word we and she bit on her lip looking over at him “I know you barely know me and really should probably chase after Bradyn but” she knew it was a lot to ask but she didn’t really know what else to do “I’m scared what will happen if I’m alone” he’d helped her to get control over her powers and she hoped maybe he could keep her distracted long along enough for her to figure all of this out.

Austin could only imagine how much worse this was going to get before it got any better. Although he'd seen Dakota upset before, it had never been nothing this severe for her, and to be frank with himself Austin was worried. With guilt and sadness dancing along the Celestial's features, often gave her a warming smile, it was faint, but it was real; something she just seemed to need in the here and now, something real. After a sigh escaping his own lungs, the Initia shook his head, amused at his own words. "I know it does. I have a tendency to say all the right things at the wrong time, I don't see how things could get any worse for you" he admitted, feeling his heart sink a little deeper into his chest when she stated how bad it hurt her. 

"God Bradyn, why man.. just why?" he breathed out, almost silently as he thought out loud about what a tool his best friend seemed to be. It saddened Austin to even know the man he'd been calling his best friend for years was even capable of something like this, it made Austin feel like there was a whole other side to Bradyn that he didn't even know. A side he didn't want to know though. Swallowing harshly, the Initia braced himself for a hit or two, however many she felt like throwing his way right now as he watched her fists ball up a few times from the dainty set of hands he was used to seeing. "Just breathe.." he stated once more and felt himself breathing for her again, even if she didn't want to follow anything he was saying, he was trying to do all he could to help right now. 

Austin found himself struggling to though. This being the first time he'd ever even been around Dakota alone, made ithings slightly more awkward than they were already. But, trying to contain his feelings, he pushed those thoughts aside as much as possible. The only time he'd ever been around Dakota alone before now, were the nights that Bradyn was at work, and even then he and Kota hadn't engaged in any conversation. Just the usual comments  from her to keep his feet off the coffee table, and asking if he had anything better to do than couch surf and play games. Now being faced with a more serious side of Dakota,shined a little more light on her, at least in his eyes and from his point of view. 

Even if she still looked broken through the soft laugh, he couldn't help but to silently praise her features. A broken smile was still a beautiful thing on Dakota, and now Austin had his head in the clouds and every where except the present moment. As she finally blew out a long breath, one she'd seemed to have been holding for a lifetime as relaxed as she seemed now compared to before her finally breathing like Austin tried showing her. "Seems like it. Honestly, this side of Bradyn, I never even knew, and this side of him seems like something I would have known, or should have, as his best friend, and another guy he could have related to, or talked to.. but he kind of left me in the dark too." Austin then expressed, angry at the sudden feeling of betrayal. 

Shaking his head, Austin had just began to process everything mentally when the lights finally stopped flickering, and went to a sudden darkness, but somehow a relaxing darkness. It certainly fit the mood. Listening to the words she spoke now that they sat in the dark, Austin sat down, leaned against the wall with his legs crossed over each other. The Initia felt pretty torn between two people he cared about equally, even if he didn't know Dakota on a personal level, he'd grown use to being in her presence and used to her ways. "I'll find Bradyn later, he's a grown man who screwed up a really good thing, honestly I kind of lost a little respect for him. As close as we are, there was a whole other side of him that I didn't even know; a person within him that I don't even like right now, so maybe he and I keeping a distance until he figures out how to pull his head out of his ass, will be for the best". Gazing to Dakota, or the sound of her voice anyways, Austin reach out in the dark, hoping to find her hand. 

"You don't have to be alone, it may not count for much, and like you said, we barely know each other, but i'm here and i'm not a believer in quitting" he then said, hoping the sound of his voice would keep her mind in the here and now, and not the dreadful days ahead of her where more pain would come, and more harsh decisions would have to be made. A notification caused Austin's phone to vibrate in his pocket, knowing it was probably Bradyn, Austin smashed the phone into his leg hoping to muffle the sound, and avoid Dakota even hearing it. "Do you want to get changed and go get something to eat? Even if we bring it back here, maybe getting some fresh air is what you need, rather than an apartment full of memories that are gonna keep you crippled" his words were blunt, but true, and sometimes the bitter truth was better than a dirty lie. 

She nodded softly, forcing a half smile as she dropped her hands to her sides again “I’m not sure there’s a right thing to say” she admitted with a shrug, nothing anything would say was going to make sure completely forget that she’d just had her heart broken in the worst way. “Short of reversing the past 4 hours of my life” she added and sighed, it was strange, how she had this one big picture of how her life was going to pan out and Bradyn was the center of them all but now, everything just kind of felt blank and she had to wonder where her real self had gone.

She could tell from the way he reacted that he didn’t approve of Bradyn’s actions, she wasn’t sure anyone could really condone that, at least not if they were a half decent person anyway. But she wasn’t stupid enough to think that he would turn against Bradyn, just as she would expect her friends to stay by her should she make a stupid mistake. Dakota knew the reason that Bradyn had resorted to this and she in a way could sympathize with him if it hadn’t been for the fact he’d chosen to make himself feel better by hurting her. Once again her thoughts were interrupted by Austin telling her to breathe and she did, doing her best not to let herself get worked up or over emotional again, those seemed to be the trigger for her powers.

Dakota nodded as she heard his thoughts on where Bradyn’s mind might be at, she didn’t really know how much to say at first but then she realized that she was still angry at Bradyn and perhaps that meant she didn’t feel like keeping her mouth shut “About 3 years ago Bradyn and I went to the doctor to get tested for fertility” she didn’t even know why she was telling him this, she hadn’t told anyone else before. Perhaps she just needed someone to hear some of thoughts buzzing around in her head in order to understand herself, to help her process all this “He can’t have children” she concluded as she bit down on her lip.

“I tried to convince him there were other options but he just…” she felt tears stinging in her eyes again and reached up to wipe them away “I stopped getting through to him” she had seen their break up coming for a long time now, ever since that day nothing had been the same between them, tainted with a future she knew Bradyn wanted but could no longer have. “I knew this was inevitable” she nodded softly at if it was a simple matter of fact “I just didn’t think he’d do it like this” she blinked a few times fighting back her emotions again.

When he moved to sit down Dakota lowered herself down, hugging her knees to her chest as she sat opposite him. She couldn’t see much without the lights on but the moonlight from the window illuminated his face just enough that she could catch the depths of his ocean gaze. She had never noticed quite how striking his gaze was, she thought to herself as she looked back at him. “The hardest part is that I still care about him, even after what he’s done” she spoke softly breaking the gaze and looking down at the floor for a moment “But if I’m not the one to walk away now, then we’ll both just be living a lie” god why was she talking about all this with him, he was just gonna go and spout it back to Bradyn anyway.

Dakota watched him through her dark lashes, a gentle appreciative smile on her lips at his offer “You know I’m starting to feel bad for never having a real conversation with you before” she admitted and sighed “I think the most I’ve said to you was in regards to politely poking you to leave” Dakota liked her space and it felt odd for her to have a third person in the apartment, even if for the most part Austin kept to the spare room. His suggestion caught her surprise though, parting her lips as she considered it, he was right in that respect, this place was a reminder of the life her and Bradyn had built and everything she looked at reminded her of him “I’m not sure I’m up to facing people yet” she admitted, her voice much more vulnerable than it usually was.

“But I suppose we can always just walk there and not go in” she added as an afterthought, honestly just the idea of walking for a bit seemed better than sitting here in the dark staring at the shattered pieces of her life. “Okay let me go find something less wrecked” she commented as she dropped her eyes to the sleeve of her shirt which was ripped where a glass shard had torn through it. She pushed herself to her feet and headed in the direction of her and Bradyn’s room walking to the wardrobe and pulling out a new shirt. She pulled off the torn shirt tossing it to the ground before she slipped on the new one, purposely avoiding looking in the mirror as she did so.

She grabbed a makeup wipe and dabbed around her face, the white cloth turning black from all the smeared makeup it cleaned off her face and she grabbed a hair tie, tying her hair up into a high ponytail. When she was done she grabbed her coat from the hook on the door and stepped back into the hallway shrugging it on over her shoulders “Better?” she asked and purposely pulled a bit of a sarcastic pose.

Shrugging, Austin let his hands curl back up in his own lap. Reaching out to touch her again wasn't a bright idea, Austin seen it as a way to comfort her, but she'd jerked away twice now. "You're right Kota, there's nothing I or anyone else can say to make this better, and while I may not know you like I know Bradyn, I would like to be here for you.. if you let me" he expressed, grimacing as he looked to the floor.

Feeling torn and conflicted, Austin finally reach into his pocket, swipiing his finger across the screen to unlock it only to see at least 10 unread messages from Bradyn. Giving Dakota the most awkward look ever, he slid it back into his pocket, but frowned. One of the text's read

"Im an idiot, Ive lost her forever, please help me Austin and text me back for fuck sake"

Austin let his head fall against the wall, rather roughly, because he did in all honesty feel like running his head through a wall or something. This was a situation the Initia would have never been prepared for, yet here it was, right in front of him and now he felt obligated to do something about it. Before he could speak, Austin closed his lips that had just parted to tell her something and began listening intently. The words she spoke saddened Austin beyond anything hes ever felt before. Austin felt pretty lost at this point, half of the things she was telling him, Bradyn had never spoke of which made him question if he truly was Bradyn's best friend.

"I'm sorry" he finally spoke out, not knowing what else to say. There wasn't anything he could really say right now besides 'sorry' which seemed pretty simple to him considering what she was going through. As she then moved to sit beside him and curled herself up again, Austin caught her gaze, leading them to make eye contact. 'don't go there Austin' he thought to himself silently before clearing his throat. "Of course you still care, but you're right about one thing, if you don't walk away, it will be a vicious painful cycle that you two go through for the rest of your lives" he expressed, but frankly didn't know what it felt like to have a significant other because while he cared deeply about the Phoenix girl his family held captive and tortured daily, it never turned into a relationship, and she fled the first chance she got.

Austin's attention was captured by Dakota again though, he couldn't have been anymore thankful that the lights were blown right now because what she'd said had caused his cheeks to turn beet red. "Yeah for a while I did sort of feel like a bed bug you wanted rid of or something" he chuckled playfully "But it's cool, even as unfortunate as the circumstances are, we're talking now" he added with a warming smile hoping the light that was cast onto him from the window didn't reveal the fact that he was blushing like an idiot.

When she finally sort of agreed to going with him, Austin smiled, standing from the spot he'd been sitting in for what felt like ages. Stretching his limbs he grunted a little. Austin hadn't had much sleep lately, going out every night ti present his invention had taken a toll on the Initia both mentally and psychically, mostly mentally but he couldn't complain, he'd done well with what he was doing and if everything went the way he wanted it to, he'd soon be sitting on a pretty fat payday. While Dakota headed to her and Bradyn's room, Austin headed to his own, only spraying cologne on his shirt before heading back out, meeting Dakota back in the living room. The Initia as she asked if she looked better. Shaking his head, he smirked "Yes, but you looked fine before too, you always look good Dakota" Austin expressed awkwardly, running a hand through his hair, calling himself a dumb ass in his mind before his eyes darted back up to hers.

"Ready?" he asked before sauntering off to the door muttering with every step he took about what an idiot he was himself; Austin had always kept his distance when it came to Dakota, for the simple fact that he'd noticed her in ways he wasn't supposed to as Bradyn's best friend. Sighing he turned the nob to exit a broken home, hell even he wanted to escape it right now because even Austin felt that he had memories there with the two of them together. That's how he'd always seen them, now it was just dark, cold, and broken; a walk around the city was much needed for both of them, his only hope was that they didn't run into Bradyn by chance. For a moment he froze in time, having a flashback of the day he and Bradyn sat at the bar joking about how Austin was laughing in his sleep, meanwhile Bradyn was on the other bed with some girl in their dorm room, both of them assuming he was laughing at them. Sighing, he snapped out of it clearing his throat once more, feeling a lump form in his throat. Boy was this a shitty situation .. even for Austin

There was something about the way he spoke her nickname that she really like the sound of, his voice was soft and hesitant, almost like he wasn’t allowed to speak it or something would blow up. The way he spoke almost sounded a little like he was afraid of her saying no which felt strange to her considering that he hadn’t seemed to care much for her opinion or even being around her in the past. She nodded slightly “Just keep me talking so I don’t lose control again” she offered before she half smiled “Please” she added knowing how much she was asking of him.

Dakota glanced over to him as he pulled out his phone and then instantly back tracked on the decision giving her a look that she understood, she couldn’t imagine it was easy for him either, especially because she got the impression from Austin that his moral compass was very much in tact. In her mind however she knew this was the final push she needed to decide to move forward, her and Bradyn could never really get back what they had before.

The brunette leaned her head to the side as he heard him hit his head against the wall behind him, as she talked about the last few years that her and Bradyn had been through she saw true empathy in his eyes. Bradyn had always wanted kids way more than Dakota did but there had been a time when she had wanted a child with him, wanted to live that perfect family life. One where parents didn’t lie to their child or try to control them.

“It’s not your fault” she responded with a half smile “It’s not anyone’s fault, that’s the worst part” she sighed softly, Bradyn had been mad at everything after he found out and she had been saddened too, but there was no one to blame, nothing you could really curse but the world itself. She was surprised when he agreed with her, she had half expected him to say she should calm down and rethink where she stood in  the morning or something that seemed like he was taking Bradyn’s side anyway, she nodded softly. Perhaps what she said made sense, it wasn’t like she had been close to Bradyn in a long time, for the most part she just made him dinner and then they went to bed every night like clockwork.

Dakota let out a soft laugh as he spoke about the way the two of them had interacted in the past “I don’t really take well to people I don’t know” she admitted with a half smile “It’s kinda weird for me to live with someone who’s essentially a stranger” she tilted her head to the side. But that went both ways didn’t it, it wasn’t like she had made an effort to talk to or get to know him and now she felt bad about that.

After she changed and came back into the room she felt a new sense of calm come over her, she had somehow managed to keep her powers from exploding again and considering just how unruly and dangerous they could be when they were let loose, she would call it a win. His words caused her to pull a face assuming he was just saying that to be polite, with a mock roll of her eyes she smirked “You’re a terrible liar but thanks” the brunette resisted the urge to rub at her eyes which she knew were still pretty red and puffy where she had been crying before

She nodded as she followed him to the door, picking up her keys and locking the door behind them as they stepped out into the winter night. Dakota was glad she had put on her coat as she placed her hands in her pockets as they started to walk through the streets of Evermore, her warm breath turned to mist in the cold air every time her chest rose and fell. “I keep forgetting just how cold it is out here” she admitted huddling into her coat to savor the warmth “So what kind of food are you thinking?” she raised as she turned to look up at him, her dark eyes affixed on his ocean blues for just a few seconds “That Thai take out place you always seem to have empty boxes from?” she asked as she wiggled her brows emphasizing the fact she had remembered it.

Austin knew himself how hesitant some of the things he was saying, sounded. But, he'd fallen a little on the awkward side currently. This had been the first conversation he'd actually held with Dakota alone, and it didn't help to know that her and Bradyn was over now, because for him, it brought all the things he had buried deep, right to the surface. Things that he'd noticed about Dakota long before now, things that didn't make him to good of a friend to Bradyn, but that was why he'd buried it all away and swore he'd never let it show. Austin's gaze averted back to the Celestial, nodding with a faint smile "I won't let you lose control. I rather not see that happen for many reasons, you're a little scary sometimes when your abilities come to life" he responded with a chuckle,

After the two shared a look, when Austin decided to awkwardly shove his phone back in his pocket, the Initia cleared his throat. "Sorry" he said sympathetically, while in the back of his mind, wondering if Bradyn was okay. It was true that this was hard on him to, and kind of scary. Austin wasn't sure that Dakota wouldn't kick him out too, but if he knew Bradyn best, he knew Bradyn wouldn't be getting another place to live in, and if he was seeing someone else, that was probably where he'd end up if not fleeing the city. Austin would never be okay with Bradyn being with someone else, he'd never condone infidelity, or adultery. Best friend or not, Bradyn was a real piece of shit for that.

Austin's expression remained a sad one, but being the kind of person he is, he could understand where both of them were coming from, all except for Kota saying it wasn't anyones fault at all. Perhaps it wasn't in a sense, but the way Bradyn decided to cope with things was tragic. "I know, trust me I know" he stated, as she only gave him a look when he didn't use words that sounded like he was taking Bradyn's side, but agreed with her instead. "Don't look at me like that." he then added, chuckling. "I know that Bradyn is my best friend, and that you and I have never really even gave the chance to get to know one another, but that doesn't mean ive never paid attention to you, or that you've not grown on me.. I can't take up for him on this one, ive had his back for a lot of things, but this... this wasn't right" the Initia cleared his throat again "And me talking about it isn't helping, so" he added, ready to change the subject and do exactly what she asked, to keep her talking.

Austin offered a smile when she explained that she didn't take well to people, especially strangers, and well, Austin basically was a stranger, or better known as Bradyn's best friend in Dakota's eyes. "I guess it's a little weird for me to, it was weird for me when I first moved in with you guys, it took me a while to find a comfort zone here, and I did feel a little bad for crashing in on y'all, but i'm grateful, because you could have very well said no to the idea of Bradyn's couch surfing best friend moving in" he stated before shaking his head laughing a little "I can be, but i'm not lying right now, even with puffy eyes you look just fine to me" he complimented sincerely before walking out behind her, jiggling the door knob to make sure it was locked before they set off into the cold winter night.

Austin cocked a brow after she asked what kind of food he was after, when he heard her mention his empty Thai boxes, he couldn't help but laugh though, and appreciate that she knew what his favorite food was, not that she went out of her way to know, since Austin normally had a mass of those empty boxes beside the couch and on the coffee table, but still it was refreshing. "You read my mind, do you like Thai though? We can get whatever you like, but the massaman curry and spring rolls are to die for" he responded, as his eyes flickered over to hers, and a breath of air escaping his lungs in the form of steam as it collided with the cold air looming around them. Austin's oceanic hues began flickering over the various houses decorated for Christmas, and began thinking that this couldn't have been his best idea for calming Dakota down and keeping her distracted. But, as long as it didn't trigger her emotions, then everything would be okay.

"Never really been one for the holiday's, because I never really had anyone to celebrate it with. War was all I have ever known, but I have to admit, Christmas is one of the prettiest holiday's. As cheesy as I probably sound right now" he chuckled before looking back in Dakota's direction, watching as she walked alongside him, figuring she wasn't much in the mood for thinking about Christmas this year. "What kind of movies do you like? Because I have tons downloaded, I can hook my laptop to the flat screen with the HDMI cord from my PS4 and we can watch a few while we eat" he added, figuring she didn't wanna sit in a public place to eat right now, and that even if her apartment was full of memories that would hurt her, it was still her home, and perhaps a movie or board games, or maybe even showing her how to play the games he played on the PS4 would be enough to keep her mind at bay until she could sleep.

"I do have something else, that would take your mind off of this night completely, but that would be a confession ive not made yet, that you may just kick me out for" he stated, chuckling as he had never seen it an issue to smoke pot. Austin had called on the herb of the earth long ago, it was a night he'd been so torn up and broken that he was at his wits end and ready to stop living when a long lost friend had gave him some to try, convincing him it would be better than all the anger and drinking his sorrow away, that it was natural and a plant that grew on the earth, so it was meant to be used. Most people had seen it as a drug, or an addiction, but Austin didn't let it define who he was, and never had an altered state of mind that caused him to make bad decisions like typical drugs would do people.

"I hope that doesn't make me seem even more of a douche" he said and continuing to walk at a slow pace as they began passing the fast food places that were still open. "Let me know if something catches your eye" he added and fell silent so she could catch up. He was sure that by now though, he'd at least managed to derail her thoughts of Bradyn, especially with the revelation of him being a stoner.

Dakota nodded as he assured her he wouldn’t let her lose control, despite the fact the two didn’t know each other all that well she found truth in the words he spoke and even gave a soft laugh as he called her abilities scary, though it was more from nervousness than anything “They scare me too” she admitted as she slid her hand into her pocket pulling out the shattered ring she had been wearing for most of her life “Wearing this ring always made it so my powers were locked away, like it was a key holding them back but now that it’s broken” she paused as she placed the fragments back into her clothing “Now things become a lot more difficult” honestly being a diviner scared her more than anything.

She saw the awkward look on his face and knew exactly why he gave it, it couldn’t be easy to be caught between someone you knew you should always stand by and the morals you held for yourself, if she was honest she was expecting him to be out the door along with Bradyn but she did have to wonder if he truly had anywhere else to go “Don’t be ridiculous, you’re best friends” and it wasn’t like Austin owed her a thing, she had not been all that kind to him since he got there and she had almost embedded glass into his skin by accident only half an hour before.

Dakota started to wonder just how blind she had been to the world around her since she had settled down with Bradyn, he’d always had his friends and while he didn’t have many, the ones he did he kept close and he took care of. She however had cut off her family and most of her friends, all she really had left in her life was Kenna. Her thoughts were however interrupted as Austin spoke again, reacting to the look she pulled without even trying, she appreciated the words he said, she did have to wonder if it was all talk to distract her or if he truly meant it but as she caught his gaze she caught a level of sincerity that she’d never noticed as he spoke before “Trust me to pick out the asshole of your friend group hey” she spoke it with a mock roll of her eyes, she’d always been good at pulling close the people who were the worst for her.

It had been a few months since Bradyn had first begged her to let Austin stay and seeing him show some kind of emotion for once she hadn’t been able to say no. Now it felt normal to have another person in the house, Austin was usually pretty quiet, tapping away on his computer and making the odd compliment to the food she made, he didn’t throw his stuff around or make much of a mess and if she was honest, she was pretty used to his presence by now. “At first it was strange but you do make for a pretty quiet house guest” she chuckled softly, she was pretty convinced that was because he purposely avoided her most of the time, she’d always just assumed he didn’t like her all that much. She ran a hand through her ponytail pulling it over her shoulder before she put up the hood of her coat as they stepped out into the cold night “At least I don’t have black streaks down my cheeks anymore” she sniffed a little with a laugh.

Dakota heard the tone of surprise in his laugh as he realized that she paid attention to his favorite food, she’d never really gotten the obsession herself but then she didn’t really eat a lot of take away most of the time anyway “I have no idea” she admitted with somewhat of an innocent expression knowing how he would probably react to his next words “Cause I may have never had it” she leaned her head to the side a little as if he was actually going to chew her ear off in response to that particular confession. As the two of them walked her eyes mostly remained on the sidewalk, not wanting to look up at all the reminders that she was going to have to spend Christmas on her own, hell she didn’t even know what she was going to do with the gifts she had bought. The brunette glanced over at her walking companion for a moment watching as he took in all the lights around them and smiled softly, she was glad one of them would enjoy them at least.

Dakota pulled a slightly sad expression as he mentioned the holidays “I used to love Christmas as a kid, always used to count down to it” she laughed a little realizing just how much she used to hype it up and how she wouldn’t let her sister get a wink of sleep “All kinda dulls down as you grow up though, doesn’t quite have the glow it used to” ever since she had left most of her family behind Christmas had more been another day to her which she guessed was sad, but Bradyn had always been a grinch himself so it worked. When he asked what movies she liked she pursed her lips thinking about it for a moment “Would it be bad if I said I liked fantasy stories?” she asked as though it was embarrassing “I may have gotten way more into Harry Potter than I’d liked to admit” man she really was spilling her life now, she’d better hope he wouldn’t go blabbing about his discoveries on his computer.

Dakota arched a suspicious brow at his next words, trying to figure out something she might want to kick him out for until it clicked in her mind “You mean the reason your clothes constantly stink?” she asked curiously, for the most part she forced him to do his own laundry but occasionally when she was short she had picked up a few of his bits to add. She gave him a somewhat sly smile “I used to smoke a little back in college, during my wild phase” she raised her fingers to make air quotes because she didn’t really do much that could be described as crazy back then which probably meant she was really boring now.

“Honestly I think we all need something to help keep us sane, can’t judge you for how you choose to do so” her way of coping was by suppressing the powers she didn’t want to accept and by not talking to people who let her down so she was the hardly in the place to lecture anyone on how to handle things. Her dark gaze turned upwards as she scanned over the different buildings around them looking for something that caught her appetite “Really all I want is a really sugary drink and some fries” she laughed “Maybe a burger if I’m feeling edgy” she was glad he was here because he really did a great job of focusing her attention on little silly things, every time her mind wanted to relapse he came back with something new.

Spotting a McDonalds over the road from them she stared at the sign for a moment before pointing it out “Probably the most generic food I could ever ask for but we’ve already established I’m boring” she chuckled looking up at him before she moved to cross over the road, checking for cards before crossing over.

His gaze averted from Dakota's eyes to the ring in it's shattered form, clearing his throat before proceeding with his curiosity "So, basically that ring being shattered means you'll have many more nights like this where your powers are loose and out of control?" he questioned, swallowing roughly, with a raised brow. He knew the expression on his face only came off as him being afraid, that he couldn't handle Dakota at her worse, but that was far from true. The Initia grew up around War, and at one point in his life he'd even found solace from a woman, a woman with more baggage than most men put together could have handled, so it was safe to say he'd have no issue handling Dakota and her powers.

A smirk curled the corners of his lips when she told him not to be ridiculous. Sure, he and Austin were best friends, but that didn't mean he did or ever would condone a cheater. Austin chuckled as she stated she had picked out the asshole of his friend group. "Truthfully Kota, we're all assholes, but some of us are decent assholes. I for one would have never thrown a marriage away for a fling, some men just aren't strong enough to cope with the issues they ave at home, the moment they find a little bit of comfort they become reckless, and most the guys in our little group is like that.. i guess im proud to say i don't really see myself that way" he stated, shrugging before grinning a bit more widely at her comment of him being a quiet house guest. "I try to keep myself busy, when i'm on my laptop it sort of consumes me" he then added, griamcing as he looked down to the floor.

For as long as he remembered Austin had been working on a huge presentation, secretly being one of the worlds biggest gaming nerds, and usually found himself upset that he'd not yet been promoted. Austin grinned as he looked around the hood of her jacket to her face that no longer had the said black streaks "Much better" he stated, winking before looking back out in front of him, keeping his hands snugly down into his pockets. The chill of the air was cold enough to cut right through a person, but this was the time of night that Austin liked best. Normally the entire city was peaceful, not many people lurked about and he wasn't one for big crowds for the most part. Work had been the only exception to that, any other time, Austin was by himself in his own bubble.

Austin looked back to Dakota with widened eyes, and his mouth fell open at her confession "You're joking.. please say you're joking!" he stated with utter shock and surprise in his tone, "Dude!!" he added before proceeding with the fascinating confession Dakota laid before him "I can't believe you've never had it before, it's life" he stated, chuckling at how excited he'd gotten himself over the fact that Dakota had never ate Thai, but he did enjoy the fact that she cooked hot meals all the time too "Thai however, has nothing on your home made cooking" he stated in a playful but sincere tone. Shaking his head, he chuckled "Not at all, maybe we can binge the HP set, then onward with lots of gore and horror?" he said in a questioning tone, grinning as though he was teasing about the gore, even if secretly, it was his favorite.

For the first time in a long time, Austin burst out into laughter, mostly due to his brain cells being surrounded by pot, but her asking if that was the reason his clothes constantly stank, he couldn't help but find the most humor in that question possible. "That's probably why, I guess I never noticed where i'm used to the smell" he stated, rubbing his cheeks which now hurt from laughing like that. Arching a brow, her next set of words paused Austin's steps, standing still, he smirked "You had a wild phase? I would have so paid to see those days... you seem pretty .." he stopped for a moment, looking for the right word to describe her "tame?" he finished, in a questioning tone.. "Yeah you seem pretty tame from what ive seen of you, to think you had a wild phase is pretty amusing. But, something tells me you really went all out for the dorm parties" he teased playfully.

Nodding, Austin couldn't have agreed more, it was pretty nice to have something to take the edge off, no matter what it was, everyone needed that. Austin grinned when she said she wanted something really sugary and some fries, chuckling at what she said after that "A burger if you're feeling edgy huh? so you'd be dangerous with two burgers" he snorted, teasing once more, and oddly enough, enjoying her company. Austin followed the direction she pointed to, his eyes settling on the big "M", smiling faintly, he began walking alongside Dakota making their way towards Mcdonalds, shaking his head again unable to not laugh as she called herself boring. "You do alright for a boring chick to be honest" he admitted, and pulled his wallet out once they reach the parking lot of Mcdonalds. After reaching the door, Austin held it open for Dakota to enter first, making a gesture with his hand "ladies first" he stated before glancing towards her, only finding himself a little distracted when his eyes met hers immediately dismissing whatever it was causing him to feel distracted by clearing his throat and glancing towards the ground while waiting for her to walk in.

Meanwhile, Austin went ahead and pulled his wallet out, growing quite an apatite now that they were here and he could smell the food inside. "I'm glad you accompanied me, I know a walk was probably the last thing you felt like doing, but ive enjoyed it... being able to laugh about the most simple things is something I really miss. Laughter wasn't part of my life when my father was still alive" he admitted before falling silent and sighing to himself.

The way he phrased it out loud seemed more real and terrifying, she pursed her lips in thought before she nodded “I guess so, at least til I learn how to figure out how to control this” she admitted with a slight shrug, she knew she should have done that a long time ago but it was just easier to keep hiding behind the ring, at least til now anyway. Her expression showed the concern she had over it all “I can’t keep hiding and pretending it’s not a part of me, no matter how much it scares me” she was more saying it to herself than him, it was about time she stopped pushing away her heritage.

Kota listened to him as he spoke, he seemed like a decent person, he knew where he stood on things which was more than could be said for most people who changed their minds as fast as the wind changed direction “It was more than just the fling” she commented running her tongue over her bottom lip, she knew things would end sooner or later, she’d felt it coming, braced herself even and yet she had stayed anyway, wanting to believe that somehow things might one day go back to the way they were. She knew she was only biding time, attached to the person Bradyn once was “I think he was just past the point where working things out was possible” which sucked because she wanted them to get there so badly.

“Hey there’s definitely worse things than an internet addiction” she teased softly noting the way he seemed to be a little embarrassed over her comment, she actually thought it was pretty charming, the way he would sit for hours on end looking so focused on whatever it was he was doing, the few times she’d come to bring him something he’d usually entirely blanked her because he was so lost in whatever it was. As they walked she realized she’d actually noticed quite a lot about him, despite the two of them not actually really talking or being friends, she supposed living with someone had that effect.

Austin’s reaction to her confession brought a bubble of laughter to her, reaching her hands up to hide behind them in mock shame “I’ve not had much of a chance to branch out lately” she muttered, her words muffled because of her hands before she dropped them slowly, giving him a smile “I promise I will order something from there some time” she dipped her head a little “When I’m feeling a little more adventurous” truthfully she was curious to see why he raved about it so much. Dakota grimaced a little at the thought of gore and horror, she had a bad habit of getting pretty spooked by that kind of stuff but she played it off “As long as it’s at least a few hours after dinner” just to avoid any urge to throw up and all.

The change in his demeanor was pretty drastic, but his laughter was pretty infectious, causing her to laugh too, shaking her head at him a little “My doom room back in college used to stink of the stuff, we had to go on a massive detox every time we had an inspection” she wasn’t immune to a few choice life decisions and she had done her share of rebellious things back in college, especially in the first few months away from her adoptive parents. The brunette pouted a little as he called her tame but then she nodded, she supposed he was right, that part of her had faded away in the past few years “It’s called getting married and wanting to start a family apparently” she wrinkled her nose a little “Don’t try it, it’s miserable” she had always had this thought about what marriage was but now she realized it was a fairytale she’d sold herself.

Dakota had to admit, this night was one of the worst she had been through, but Austin had managed to make it at least a little better, he was right, she really did need some sort of distraction, keeping her mind occupied seemed to keep her powers and her emotions at bay. “Practically lethal” she teased back with equal snark to his comment. His next comment however caused her to go quiet, how was it that she had been so blind to other people around her for so long, she wondered as he reached to open the door for her, her dark chocolate hues meeting his ocean blues for just a couple of seconds before she stepped inside.

She wandered towards the counter, her eyes turning up towards the menu as she debated what she would order. She heard Austin speaking and at first she didn’t really take in his words but as he finished she turned towards him, listening to the way he spoke about his father. She’d never really heard him talk about his family and she’d never pushed it before because his lack of home showed little merit for their support, she hadn’t realized his father had passed. Her lips parted wanting to say some cliche thing about being sorry but before she could get a word out the employee appeared and asked if they needed any help.

Dakota cleared her throat forcing her eyes away from the Initia and over to the young man trying to serve them. She spoke her order “I’ll take a big mac meal with a strawberry milkshake please” she stated, thought she seemed dazed and distracted, realizing how self absorbed she’d been the last few years. She did her best to keep her expression neutral but it was unsettling for her. After the two of them had ordered the young male scuttled off, she turned towards Austin once again “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you speak of your parents” she admitted as she tipped her head upwards to meet his gaze again.


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