Neil lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what the point of going out was. All he could think about was his old friends, and how they were doing. Were they having fun, knowing that they wouldn’t see him for an indefinite amount of time? You know they are, he thought. His stomach twisted, and he covered his face with his hands and rolled over, trying to hide from it all. He knew it wasn’t right, being bitter towards them over something he had no control over. It was almost ten in the night. I need to do something. Frustrated, he left the room and walked to the lounge by the dining area. To his surprise, the other children of the expedition members were there too. Oh. Well, time to head back. But then he paused. What change will come about from retreating to my room? I don’t want things to remain as they are, let’s take a leap of faith. Steeling himself, he walked over to where the other five were sitting. Everyone knew each other’s names. It was just a matter of trying to start a conversation. Juliet saw him approach and smiled, which made any doubts he still had disappear. He sat next to her on the couch, with Angela on her other side. Here goes nothing. Trying to be funny he went “Hey everyone, my name’s Neil and I’m new here.” To which they all replied in unison “Hiiii Neil.” The same way you’d respond to someone at an anonymous meeting. He instantly cracked a grin. These guys were fun…
“Oh sh-” Liberty yelped as her chair flipped backwards and she rolled over onto the floor. She had wrapped herself in a blanket while tilting her chair backwards, against her own and the new friend group’s better judgement. Everyone cackled, watching her get even more tangled in the sheet and look like a weird ghost. “Hold still” Angela snickered as she got up to help untangle the poor soul from her web of questionable decisions. Still laughing, Neil looked around and got hit with a sudden realization. This is really nice. It was already midnight, and he hadn’t even noticed. Looking at everyone smiling, he was filled with something new. Is this…warmth? He stopped. Had it been so long he’d forgotten what it was like to be happy? Wow, that requires some introspection, but we’ll get to that later. Things were going so well, and he wanted to make this last as long as possible. “Liberty,” Olivia said, jogging Neil out of his thoughts, “you look exhausted.” “I thought you were gonna say I look like shit,” Liberty replied, picking up a button that fell off of her flannel. “I mean I stopped myself, but yeah you kinda do,” said Olivia. Liberty grinned and responded by levitating the button and launching it at high speed. Olivia quickly blocked it with a small incantation, making it stop in midair and fall. Neil watched the exchange with a straight face, wondering how Olivia didn’t lose an eye. Then again, even if that did happen she could probably regrow it after maybe a week if I use the right spell. Juliet definitely had better mana reserves, but from what she had mentioned in passing, memorizing the language needed for magic was very difficult for her. Either way, it would turn out okay.
“Hey guys,” said Parker. “Listen up.” He had said maybe twenty sentences since they all started talking, so the others turned to give him their undivided attention. Blushing, he stuttered and took a few seconds to regroup his thoughts. “I just wanted to say I’m really happy. I thought it would be really lonely on this ship, just like at home…I kind of gave up on the idea of meeting people who make me feel okay with being me. So uh, yeah. Thank you.” Juliet went over to give him a hug. “I felt the same way too, honestly I was just going to focus on documenting everything we came across during the expedition. After the riots started back home…there’s nothing to go back to. It’s why I was glad to come along the expedition. Maybe we’ll find something that helps fix the resource shortage. But now things are different. I have good company agaaaain,” stifling a yawn at the end of her sentence. Noticing this, Neil said “Hey, it’s been a long day, we worked our asses off this morning. Why don’t we all get some sleep.” “Wait up,” mumbled Parker. “You said you had some really cool stories that you loved reading earlier, didn’t you?” “Uh, yeah?” Neil replied. Parker grabbed a blanket and curled up on the couch. “Can you tell them please?” Neil looked around and saw everyone watching him eagerly. He smiled softly. “Okay.” And so began the first of many nights of storytelling.
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