2012-02-25: Cultured Shock


Evelyn_icon.jpg Jill_icon.jpg Kalindi_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg SophieD_icon.jpg

Summary: The captives meet and try to discover where they are, what happened, and what's going to happen next. Different people have different ways of dealing with stress. Some deal better than others.

Date: February 25, 2012

Log Title: Cultured Shock

Rating: PG-13

Romania - Tower - Top Floor

Grandeur is one word that can be used to describe the rectangular room. A large crystal and gold chandelier hangs from the middle of the high ceiling with long white tapered candles that always stay lit without ever needing to be replaced. Four smaller chandeliers hang from each corner to provide more light and accent the larger one. The high ceiling is nothing shy of magnificent, with gilded molding to accent to the white designs and intricate patterns that almost give it layers.

The walls are all white with golden trip and design which accents the ceiling. A large mirror with a grandiose gilded frame sits above a magnificent marble fireplace that is always lit with a comforting fire, which provides the perfect amount of warmth. Two large couches sit around a marble toped tabled and a few chairs sit on the sides of the couches to be pulled up around the table. On the mantle of the fireplace is a clock that doesn't seem to work, a few small statues and candelabras.

Across from the large fireplace are two large glass doors that lead out to a balcony which hangs over a large water fall. Looking down it's easy to tell the tower is high up in the air and there is at least five hundred feet between the balcony and bottom of the waterfall. The red moon can be seen in the night sky shining down on the tower as it seems to be perpetually night.

Along one side wall two mirrors hang with gilded frames and in front of each is table a with lit candelabra in the center to help provide the brightness in the room. In between the mirrors is large painting of an old fashioned, pale looking male with dark hair and a pale face that hangs over an elegant lit fireplace. On the opposite wall it is covered will books from floor to ceiling along with a small rolling ladder attached to the shelves to reach the harder to find books. It seems like almost any book you wish to read is there.

Two large doors sit on each side of the large fireplace with mirrors set into their doors. One door leads to the hallway where the bed chambers are and the other to the bathroom. The bathroom has a large circular tub built into the floor with many taps around it that provide bubbles, scents and water in the perfect temperature. Golden lamps hang from the walls and there are fluffy towels off to the sides.

With night still looming outside of the grand and stately room, the reading area is lit only by the warm golden glow of candle and firelight. Aside from the crackle of logs in the fireplace, there is little sound to punctuate the deathly stillness save the soft rustle of a book's pages. Seated on the floor at the foot of the impressive bookcase, a willowy girl with golden blonde hair and dressed in a flowing, eggshell white nightgown ponders, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. There's a whole stack of them piled up next to her. The gently wavy locks of her hair are in disarray, evidently from the way she frequently reaches up to twist and finger them as she reads before setting the current book aside and reaching for another. Whatever she might be searching for, she has an odd, desperate expression. Haunted might be the best word.

Having drifted from terror and grief to a fitful sleep, and back to fearful waking again, Rashmi has given up on further trips around this particular track and left her bed. Pausing, at least, to arrange herself so that she at least resembles the polite guest, she finally exits her room, steaming cup of chai in hand, and freezes at the sight of the blond, a look of unalloyed panic blinking across her face. The expression is gone in the space of a heartbeat, however, replaced with gentle confusion. "….Hello?" she says, nightgown whispering about her ankles as she makes for an empty chair.

Peace, quiet and serenity are in short supply in Evelyn’s room. Waking up in a strange place is one thing, but waking up missing bits is another entirely. "Oh CRAP they /ate my tail/!" she yells in horror. A mere moment later the door to her room is flung open and she dashes out, hands reaching behind her back. "When I find those dirty fleabags I'm going to make myself a winter coat!" She takes a few steps, then frowns. "Who are you? And where are we?"

Kalindi steps out of her own suite, wearing a nightgown as well. For those who might recognize the girl, her eyes seem a bit lighter than they normally are, though they are still dark. She furrows her eyebrows lightly at seeing other girls outside of their rooms. Her eyebrows are darkly furrowed and she does not seem to be in a particularly pleasant mood. Then she recognizes Rashmi. "Ah, Rashmi. Maybe you know what is happening?"

The girl sitting beneath the bookcase doesn't respond to Rashmi immediately. "Nineteen thirty-six," the blonde all but whispers to herself, closing the book in her lap gently and setting it aside to reach for another. "Eighteen ninety-seven," she says after a brief perusal of its first few pages. Something in her concentration finally flags and she lifts her head, the worried and wearied cast to her features softening abruptly with first a glance at Rashmi. "… huh?" The second arrival is given a literal double-take. "E-… Ev?" the girl asks, shock and relief in equal parts. At once she clambers to her feet, spilling the book from her lap, and positively seizes Evelyn in a hug, clinging tightly and squeezing far too hard. "Oh my God," the strange girl whimpers into Evelyn's shoulder. "I- I'm so glad to see you. But if you're here… they got you too?"

"Not… entirely," Rashmi says, eyes lingering on the younger girls, before flicking toward Kalindi. "…But I like it less and less, the more of us I see here…" Shaking her head and putting her teacup aside, she rises from her chair, crossing to give Kalindi a brief hug. "…Still… at least there's friendly faces, so that's something."

Evelyn frowns. "Wait a minute… Are you /Jill/? You look a little different. A /lot/ different if I'm honest," she replies in bemused tone. "Oh god does anyone know if Ahmed is alright? The last time I saw him a wolf was chewing his throat and the only person who might have been able to give first aid was a blind stranger with earth powers." She checks again for her missing tail. "Uhm. This might sound odd but does anyone else feel suddenly and unwelcomely 'normal'?"

Kalindi returns the hug to Rashmi and then nods at her, "Yes, that is very much a relief for me too… Tabitha will maybe be worried. But I do not like what is happening. When people want an audience with me, they will request it. The only reason that they will take me is because they do not think I would come. I would only not come if it is something very very bad." She purses her lips and shakes her head before looking towards Evelyn, "My sorcery seems to be dampened here. It is very much a problem."

"Tabitha's okay?" Rashmi's shoulders seem to relax, fractionally, and she shakes her head. "….Actually nevermind. We'll talk about that later, it's probably a story." Turning to face the other girls, she takes in a deep breath, nodding to affirm Kalindi's statement. "They've cut off our powers, probably with magic. As for *why* we're here?" The redhead shrugs lightly, moving back to her chair. "…I… don't know. I have guesses. But I don't know for sure."

Releasing Evelyn from the hug but still holding her by the shoulders, the blonde girl nods emphatically. "Yes! It's me! It's not a disguise anymore! I'm… I'm human again," she confirms Evelyn's first and last questions simultaneously in a slightly manic tone. Holding her at arm's length proves too much for Jill to bear for very long and so she returns to the crushing hug and seems neither willing nor able to let go just yet. "I don't know what happened except I was walking home after I got a message from the school and there were these gargoyles and I tried to stop them but they-" It's definitely Jill, at any rate, and she goes on like that for a bit longer, mumbling into Evelyn's neck and shoulder.

"Gargoyles? Like the things made from stone?" Evelyn asks, arms trapped by her sides by the extended hug. "I guess if the school sent a warning they must have heard from someone and I was literally within sight of the grounds… So maybe he made it back okay! So we've been taken to some kind of magic castle, our clothes have been stolen and we've got a host who either hasn't paid his electric bill or doesn't like modern fittings…."

Kalindi nods at Rashmi and says, "I have suspicions too. Though some suspicions have been dispelled when I see that there are mutants who are here. It is a different thing, mutants…" She glances towards the others and says, "I fought some skeleton knights, that they knocked me down, that is… very embarrassing…" She shakes her head disapprovingly and then notes, "But I was shot in the shin before that, and now it is all better. Was that magic?"

"Probably," Rashmi murmurs, peering for a moment at the other two girls. "Jill… and Evelyn, right? C'mon, have a sit. This is Kalindi, and I'm Rashmi. We're all in the same boat I guess, so, let's just settle down for a little, and try to put our heads together?"

Jill releases the squeeze only to hold Evelyn at arm's length again. "That's right…" she breathes, not confirming anything but as if she's remembered something frightfully important. "That's right!" she repeats and at last lets go of the other Xavier's student. She turns to the others. "I've already figured something out. I've gone to sleep twice already and it's still night. It's always night, but there's more. I found something. I have to show you. You need to see so you'll understand." This blonde version of Jill is certainly behaving strangely. Manic, neurotic. At least, more neurotic than usual, fingers twining and tugging fitfully at a lock of her light golden hair. "I don't know what it means. I need to show you," she insists fretfully and points to the door that leads to bedrooms.

"You're Rashmi? As in the one people at school talk about? How'd you get captured? Maybe the sorts of things kidnapping people might give us a clue as to what's up?" Evelyn asks curiously, while looking for a moment to break away from Jill’s death grip. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. Kalindi are you some sort of wizard? Or is it witch, warlock, mage or sorceress?"

"Sorceress, that is the closest to what I am, it is the term that I use," says Kalindi in response to Evelyn, "And yes, I think… what, I know gargoyles, skeleton knights… we are certainly dealing with another sorcerer. Very powerful…" The young woman looks towards Jill and then nods at her, following her wherever she might be indicating.

"Ghosts," Rashmi says, clearing her throat. "If I didn't come with them, they were going to kill my boyfriend." Another flicker of emotion, this time smoldering anger, before her face is schooled back into gentle calm. Glancing at her teacup, she takes a sip, before setting it aside once more and rising. "…I guess if people talk about me, I'm that Rashmi, yes," she says, shrugging uncomfortably. "So, we know it's magic, and powerful magic. If we knew *where* we were, probably we'd be able to guess who… before he introduces himself, anyway…" And with that, she gestures for Jill to go ahead and show them what she wanted to point out, falling in behind the panicking blond.

The blonde girl leads them to one door in particular, one that the other's are unlikely to have been through yet. It leads to a plush bedroom, blue velvet curtains and white walls decorated with delicate reliefs picked out in gold leaf. It appears as comfortable as any of the others and is immaculately clean. Jill pushes the door open and hurries ahead, nightgown fluttering. "Look, here." She leans over the table in the center of the room, bedecked with a full tea set and plates of small cookies and confections. "The teapot. It's full of hot chocolate. Look, still steaming! And over here…" The girl practically flutters to the other end of the table. "These little cookies, the square ones? There are one, two…" Quickly she counts aloud, hovering a finger over each of the small rectangular cookies. "…eight, nine, ten. Haha! Ten, right? Here, have one! Eat it, throw it in the fireplace, I don't care!"

"Oh you are? Weird, I assumed the woman who beat up Magneto would be taller!" Evelyn offers, following along in Jill’s wake as if this was all a bad dream. "I'll give them a miss thanks. I spent most of my first day here being unwell after I ate one of the snacks they had out, then when I woke up again it was… more suitable…" She glances around the room. "Is your plan to waste all the snacks, then we beat up whoever comes in to bring more?"

Kalindi picks up one of the cookies she is offered and says, "It is the same in my room. Snacks and drinks, they do not empty. It is always the same… I have little sandwiches. They are even vegetarian sandwiches, how could this person have known that?" She shakes her head and takes a bite from the cookie, "But it is a replenishment spell… there is nobody bringing the sandwiches. It is like, eh, the Christian myth with the breads and the fishes. The Jesus sorcerer was using the replenishment spell." She makes some hand gestures, likely something arcane, and then takes another bite of the cookie. To Rashmi she says, "I have kept tabs on other magic users in the city but this… this is not anyone I know. It is very frustrating not being able to touch my power. I feel naked."

Just outside the room the group of girls now occupy, one might hear the quiet creak of hinges, though the tapping of a cane would be all but unknowable. Soon enough, though, a soft voice can be heard, calling out from within the same doorway that just opened. "H-hello?" Sophie calls out, where she stands holding on to the doorjamb, as if it might somehow protect her. She's clad in a dark blue evening gown, with a corset that leaves her shoulders bare and accents the glow coming from beneath the skin of her chest, and the gold choker around her throat; quite uncharacteristic dress for the blind girl, right down to the matching blindfold wound about her eyes. "W-Who is there? I hear voices…" She pauses, and swallows noisily. "Please do not hurt me," she hurriedly adds.

Rashmi's lips twitch, the redhead almost visibly fighting back laughter at Kalindi's attempt to explain. "…I don't know all that much about magic," she manages, finally, "but if someone was powerful enough to take us all, bring us here, and keep it night… well, magic food I guess just sort of makes sense…" Moving forward, she takes gentle hold of Jill's shoulders. "C'mon, let's go back to the sitting room and get comfortable, okay? Trust m-" There's a pause, and a startled blink in Evelyn's direction as what she'd said sinks in. "I never *beat up* Magneto! Are you crazy?! He could fold me into a *pretzel* without even thinking hard!" Shaking her head, she calls out, as though in reflex, "It's Rashmi, Sophie, don't wo-…. oh. Well… shit."

The frantic Jill shrugs off Rashmi's grip then holds up a hand, fingers splayed, like a stage magician asking for silence from the audience. "Hold up, hold up, you're getting ahead of me. Igor doesn't seem that bad," she rambles. "But forget the cookies. Don't even think about cookies. Just remember that there were ten, then forget it." She waves both hands as if physically pushing the very idea of cookies off the table before tottering off in a different direction. "Hi Sophie," she offers blandly and without so much as a second glance on her way to the ornate dressing table and mirror. "This," Jill announces, coming back with a long, thin hairpin. On one end is a cloisonné ornament, a five-petaled flower of a soft bluish-purple. "Is a periwinkle. My last name is Pervinca. In Italian, that means…?" She gives an appropriate professorial pause before answering on everyone's behalf. "Periwinkle."

Evelyn glances between Kalindi, Jill and the cookies. "Remember that there were ten, then forget it? What does that even mean?" she wonders. "And whoa I'm not the one who said that. It's just something they say around school. I guess maybe you left a strong impression on the younger students and in hindsight it does seem like a farfetched tale…."

Kalindi says towards Rashmi, "It seems that you have been made into a legend at your school. That is quite an honour." She smiles humourlessly and then looks towards Jill, "Ahh, yes. It seems that our host has done many research about us, he knows us well. These were not random takings. These rooms have been prepared for us." She looks between the other girls and then to Sophie who appears, "So what about us is so special? We are all young women, so far that I have seen…" To Sophie, she says, "Hello, Sophie. It is me, Kalindi, I do not know if you remember me."

Sophie breathes a great sigh, and her shoulders deflate, before she chances moving out into the common room. Her cane sweeps the floor in front of her, as she moves uncertainly. "Rashmi," she replies. "Now I recognize people properly. I also hear Jill, Evelyn… and si, Kalindi, I recognize you from Tony Stark's party." She pauses, coming to a halt and rubbing her fingers over her face. "Where are we?" she blurts out. "Who are these people… why have they taken us? Where are we?" She pauses, and then blurts out, "And who changed my clothes while I was asleep and why am I wearing silk?!"

"I'd really sort of rather not be a legend at all," Rashmi mutters, "but if I must, at least for stuff I *did.* *Any*way," she says, pitching her voice to more conversational tones, returning her attention to Jill. "Kalindi makes sense, Jill… It is *really* seriously weird, yeah… but if you're a wizard with power to spare, and you intend to kidnap…. five? girls, I guess it makes a weird sort of sense to tailor things to them, y'know?" She falls silent at Sophie's outburst, a pained look crawling over her face. "…Y'know, that doesn't sound a single bit less creepy hearing it than it did when I noticed too…" Shuddering, she clears her throat. "We don't know that yet, Sophie. I doubt we'll be in the dark long, so to speak."

"You don't understand! There's more, there's more!" Jill persists emphatically, shaking her head violently like everyone else just isn't getting it. Without warning or hesitation, she deliberately presses her thumb down hard on the sharpened end of the hairpin, flinching and uttering a quiet squeak despite herself. There are tears beginning to well in her eyes as she holds up hand for all to see, a bead of dark ruby red squeezing up from the tiny puncture, not even enough to trickle down under gravity. "Look! You see it. Don't you?" A teardrop rolls down her perfectly normal, perfectly human, perfectly peachy-pink cheek.

Evelyn takes a tentative step towards the teapot, then leans close and sniffs at the contents. "I wonder if she's been drugged," she muses. "Does anyone remember how many rooms there are on this level? Because if someone is kidnapping people, putting them in rooms with magic replenishing snacks and generally being creepy I'd put money on the number of rooms being important. Like if there are more rooms than there are of us then it'd suggest more people are on the hit list."

"Well… yes, I would like to be a legend for reasons that I have done, too," says Kalindi to Rashmi, before continuing. "It could be more magic," says Kalindi to Sophie, "that has changed your clothes. Or they just pulled them all off and put new ones on. It is just as likely that it was a human or a monster who did it anyways." She waves her hand in the air, dismissing the thought, before she looks to Jill, watching that drop of blood coming out, waiting for something significant, but when nothing further happens she says, "Did your power prevent you from bleeding? The rest of you, you are all mutants, but with no access to your abilities, yes? This is not magic that I know, but I am also cut off. And my abilities, they are magic. They are not like yours. So then why are you all mutants? What is the point of that if this person takes your powers away? Me, I can understand. There are many many people who would like to sacrifice me on an altar. But the rest of you? I have more thinking to do."

"Human? Monster?!" Sophie looks fit to burst into tears, and she draws a sharp breath, but manages to hold off on water works, at least for the moment. "I do not like to think of anyone… changing my clothes while I sleep! Or even while I am awake! Unless if it is me." She sucks in another deep breath, and clutches tightly to the top of her cane, as if it were some totem that might protect her. "They have even taken my crucifix. …And no, I cannot use my powers. I can neither heal nor use my neutron blasts." She pauses, shaking her head slowly. "I… this all reminds me of this vampire movie I saw in Spain, before I went blind. The vampire had many wives, si? And kept them all in luxury. …And of course they were all vampires too, after he bit them."

"Okay, okay *okay!*" Rashmi says, raising her voice to cut over the dire predictions. "Guys! Enough already! Jill's fine, she's having a perfectly understandable freakout. Kalindi, Sophie, logical thoughts but right now? *Not.* *Helping.*" Pausing to take a slow breath, she pinches the bridge of her nose. "…Look, this is hugely terrifying, I know. What it could mean, even worse. But instead of scaring the *crap* out of each other, maybe we'd be better off thinking about what we can *do* about it?"

"But…" Jill stammers, glancing about forlornly when no-one seems to immediately realize the sheer significance and implications of her red blood. At Rashmi's outburst, slowly the girl droops, the iron-hard tension in her shoulders going slack. The hairpin drops onto the intricately woven carpet with hardly a sound. All at once she seems to lose the manic energy and the quiet, haunted look returns. Jill moves listlessly to one of the pair of blue velvet armchairs. She sits gingerly, offering a timid, "M'sorry…" into the brief moment of silence.

"Jill we all figured you'd bleed normally because all our powers are gone too," Evelyn points out gently, before turning and scratching her head. "So we should try find things we can use as weapons? Or read all the books in the hope one contains magic secrets? Oh! If it /is/ a vampire like Sophie suggests we find a plate of replenishing garlic bread and…." She glances at Kalindi "Wait a minute does garlic even annoy vampires?"

Kalindi nods at Rashmi and says, "I do not mean to make for panics. I am just trying to make it so that our knowledge is pooled, so that we can better plan what to do about it… I will try to commune with my father, but I think that is very likely to be blocked too, this sorcerer has done his research and that is not something he would forget to block…" The young woman tilts her head back and forth a couple of times and then says to Evelyn, "I think it is personal taste with the garlic. Many vampires, they will say, ah, you have terrible breath.'

After that, Kalindi looks towards the others and then adds, "I know many things about magical beings so we have some advantage, but now, I will leave you to go and try to perform my ritual. Let me know if there is anything new that happens." With that, she turns to head back to her room.

Sophie opens her mouth to say something, but just as quickly closes it. She blushes softly, and now tears really do trickle down her cheeks, leaving the thin silk of her blindfold damp and discolored. "I'm sorry," she whispers, and bows her head. She reaches up to just beneath her throat, and grasps for her crucifix; which of course, isn't there, and her fingers find only bare skin. She droops a little further, and slowly turns around, facing back towards her room. "I… I feel sick," she mumbles. "I need to lie down." And with that, and the tap of her cane, she retreats back into what is apparently 'her' room.

Rashmi's mouth closes with a sharp click, her dusky face crumpling as she crouches next to Jill's chair. "…No, *I'm* sorry," she says after a moment. "I'm… really not taking this better than anyone else. …Mostly because it was sort of a lot worse, before. Just… Jill? It's going to be okay. Whatever happens, we *need* to *know* that it's going to be okay. I mean, look… We've got the school on alert, and SHIELD, and my other friends… even if it's *Dracula himself* I know we're gonna get rescued. If we don't get ourselves out first."

Sitting quietly in the chair with her fingers laced and raised to support her chin, the fully humanized Jill remains passive. Too passive. She doesn't even look up to watch the others go, though her eyes flick sideways to Rashmi for just a moment. There's just the soft, rhythmic twitch of her index finger. "One, two, three…" Her eyes are on the table and its arrangement of sweet treats as she keeps counting. "…seven, eight, nine… Ten." The girl makes a soft sound with an exhaled breath, though it's impossible to tell if it's a short laugh or a short sigh.

Evelyn twitches when Rashmi goes and mentions Dracula himself. "So… do we have a plan? I mean there must be some former student handbook for dealing with messed up situations. Do we explore as much as we're able to? Fashion clubs from candlestick holders and try force our way to freedom?" She begins idly pacing around the room, taking in the decor. "Whoever has kidnapped us certainly has interesting taste. Very much renaissance into early Baroque… Not cheap if it's authentic."

Rashmi laughs softly, though it's a sound with very little humor in it. "Plan? No… no plan. And no fighting… *Definitely* not yet. No… for whatever reason, we're here. We can't even *fight* properly until we know what we're up against. And for awhile, we probably wouldn't be smart doing anything but passive resistance. Best thing to do, I guess, is wait. Maybe see what questions Igor can answer… but gently. He seems pretty nice, and it can't hurt to have any friend at all here, y'know?" Shaking her head, she rests a hand on Jill's arm. "Hey… Jill? What're you doing?"

The light touch makes the blonde girl start, an automatic twitch reflex to jerk her arm away. She doesn't make it far enough to even break the contact before she stops herself. "Sorry…" Jill lifts her other arm to point at the desserts tray, specifically an arrangement of small rectangular shortbread cookies. "There are ten of them again. When we weren't looking, it happened. If you look straight at it the whole time, you can take all ten and they won't come back. But when you look away…" She shakes her head and comes back to herself briefly. "The books in the sitting room are all modern. Or fairly modern, anyway. The most recent one I could find was from 1957, so we're probably not in the past, if that helps any."

"So really what you're saying is the plan is be nice and pay attention," Evelyn decides, nodding. "Sounds simple enough. I wonder if the decor is authentic or magical reproductions then? If the books are new it would seem more like fake stuff. Anyway, just try relax Jill. It can't be easy for you most of all, because you've had the biggest change in turning normal again."

"No, that *does* help," Rashmi says with an encouraging smile. "Any information is more than we had before, and it's good to know we won't have to deal with time-travel nonsense on top of everything else. So… yeah, that helps a lot." Glancing over at Evelyn, she nods slowly. "Basically that's the plan, yeah… but, Jill? It's okay to freak out. Trust me… you're doing a *really* good job of handling it… but you don't need to. Not at the moment, anyway. I think we have some time, so… if you really, really need to have a good panic attack… it's okay. Just… Whether or not this helps, I can think of a hundred ways I'd rather be prisoner here than Nigeria… and I don't *want* to be prisoner *anywhere.*"

"I think I'm okay," assures Jill in the insincere way that only people who are not okay can use. She sniffs once and wipes at her eyes. "This is just shock. Wait until I've settled down and got my bearings, then I'll really start panicking." Despite all of that, she sounds surprisingly lucid for now. "I don't know how we're supposed to get out of here even if we wanted to. And the balcony…" She shakes her head. The drop from the balcony to the ground is terrifying and certainly fatal. "I guess… we don't have any choice, do we?" The girl glances up to Rashmi's eyes, a last desperate search for some hope. "We're stuck here, aren't we?"

Evelyn waves her hand. "At least the furniture isn't singing at us," she notes. "I think I'm going to properly search 'my' room. See if I can find some suitable clothing or any clues which might help. If you need me just shout." And with that she's off.

"For now," Rashmi admits, holding Jill's gaze with utter conviction. "But not forever. I told Igor… we're only guests here. And guests eventually go home. It might be hard - I can't promise it won't be - But we *will* go home. I know too many really good people not to be sure of that."

"Okay." Jill's lower lip trembles and it's only with difficulty that she manages something almost, but not entirely, resembling a smile. The dam bursts and she begins to cry, silently.

Rashmi reaches up, gathering the blond against her shoulder with a quiet, heavy sigh. "I'm sorry this happened to you," she murmurs. "But we'll be okay. You'll see."

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