If things work out this will be my first multi-chapter fanfic ever. It will be silly (that, I know), romantic (that, I hope) and exciting (that, I seriously doubt).
Overcoming fear through team building
"This place sure is spooky…" the deep voice of Gallows echoed through the empty halls of the withered old mansion. "I wouldn't be surprised if we ran across a few ghosts…" he trailed off, his menacing tone of voice suggesting he was trying to scare them.
The sheer volume of Jet's sneer that followed made him the center of everyone's attention. Gallows looked especially annoyed glaring at the white haired boy.
"What's that? You don't believe in ghosts, Jet?" he asked while his mind, always tuned onto mischief, already held the early makings of a plan.
"Let's see, how do I put this in a way you'd understand?" Jet scratched the back of his head thoughtfully, "…No"
"Here we go again…" Virginia muttered below her breath. Clive chuckled discretely.
The drifter quartet stood in the dark corridor, backs facing the main entrance: a thick wooden gate with an unknown family crest in the center. The air was stale and oddly cool considering the blazing heat outside.
Running a callused hand through an abandoned cobweb Gallows smiled a wicked smile. It was obvious to everyone in the room that he was plotting something.
"Not afraid of ghosts, eh?" he muttered absentmindedly while studying the fine web shrouding his fingers like a satin veil. A gray membrane of the akin covered the walls of the abandoned mansion blurring the patterned wallpaper. The place truly had a ghastly atmosphere.
"Nope. Ghosts are…" Jet paused, searching for the right word, "…stupid."
Gallows gave a short laugh at the statement at the same time discarding the cobweb.
"Ok. How about this?" he directed his calculating stare at the younger boy. "To prove your utter fearlessness, and manliness, you'll spend a night in this 'ere haunted mansion!" He giggled wickedly as his plan was unveiled. Sure, it wasn't the most original of plans but nonetheless it would be fun to execute.
"Why the hell would I wanna do that?" Jet questioned and made sure to laugh some in a very contemptuous manner, "I don't need to prove myself to you... Jeez, why stay in this dusty hell hole when I can stay at a comfy INN somewhere?" he kicked some dust of the off the grimy floor to further emphasize his point.
"Ohh, scared are we?" Gallows persisted. Unfortunately for Jet he wasn't one to easily give up, "You'd better be careful or Virginia might dump you over someone braver…" he intentionally trailed off, wondering how the suggestion might affect the boy.
"Gallows!" Virginia looked flustered while Clive chuckled ever so discretely.
"Dump…me?" Jet sported a confused look. He wasn't quite certain what Gallows meant. Sure, he was familiar with the expression, but how could she dump him? They had no special relationship… Perhaps it meant she could kick him off the team? Then again, he'd been dying to leave ever since he first joined so it wouldn't really be that bad, would it?
Jet shook his head lightly, reminding himself not to take anything Gallows said too seriously.
"So what's it gonna be? Maybe you are afraid after all?" the Baskar tribesman pursued. "What a disappointment…"
"Jet…" Virginia had turned to watch him, poorly disguised concern in her shining blue eyes, "You don't have to prove anything." she then blushed slightly for some reason unknown to him.
Then realization finally struck him, the meaning behind Gallows' earlier remark.
"No, Gallows is absolutely right! I must prove myself man enough for you!" Jet exclaimed, striking a heroic pose.
The room went dead silent and for a moment time itself seemed to have stopped. Clive chuckled no longer staring wide-eyed at him. Virginia was shocked speechless her jaw dropped wide open and Gallows… Gallows just stood there.
Jet himself was utterly dumbfounded.
"Uh, that was sarcasm. Couldn't you tell?" Had he truly sounded so very serious?
"Oh" Virginia quickly snapped out of her awe. However trying, she failed miserably in concealing the disappointment in her voice. She blushed as three pairs of eyes were directed toward her.
"Jeez! Is that really something you'd expect to hear from me?" Jet muttered in disgust. He would have to watch himself around these people. Who knew what horrible misunderstandings could arise would he not?
"…Sarcasm, eh?" Gallows repeated, momentarily tempted to change the topic from ghosts to something equally dead: Jet's sense of romance and relationships. Ultimately he decided against it. Opportunities like this one rarely came along, after all, whilst Jet would most certainly remain emotionally clueless for a long, long time. "Well? You didn't answer. Or perhaps you really were serious just now?" he endured.
"Congratulations Gallows!" Jet exclaimed annoyed to the point of breaking, "Just when I think you can't get more irritating, you surprise me." he was near overcome by a strong urge to make a ghost out of Gallows, a particularly gruesome one, "If I sleep here tonight will you shut the hell up?"
"Hehe, sure. If you dare sleep that is…" the larger man rubbed his hands together in a suspicious manner.
Virginia came walking up to Jet.
"Are you really sure about this?" She had a good idea of what Gallows had planned but that wasn't really what worried her.
"Virginia…don't tell me you believe in this ghost crap?"
"Well, we have seen a lot of weird stuff on our travels…" she muttered lowering her head, ashamed to admit her fears.
"I see… How 'bout you, Clive?" Jet turned to look at the supposedly wisest member of the group.
"I believe…" Clive pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, "you should never completely dismiss a theory unless you have indisputable proof of its falsehood." his extreme straight-from-the-textbook answer went so far it nearly turned into a parody of itself.
Jet sighed running a hand trough his unruly white hair. He wasn't about to change his opinion that easily, but Clive did make a good point. Perhaps he truly was the smartest of the four?
He does wear glasses, after all…
Gallows cleared his throat regaining the attention of his friends.
"Let's go find a place to sit down and I'll tell you the history of this place" he suggested, heading off into the dusty hallway. Before he got very far, however, Clive spoke up.
"That's funny. I was under the impression this place was new to you as well?" he inquired one eyebrow slightly quirked suggesting a mild skepticism.
"Well, uh, I just… remembered that I've actually heard of this place before." spoke Gallows with a sheepish smile, "It must've slipped my mind."
The first floor lounge had at first glance appeared inhabited by a family of oddly shaped and petrified ghosts that stood motionless scattered across the large room. At a closer look, however, these turned out to be nothing but old, sheet-clad furniture.
"This is how it all began…" Gallows spoke while relaxing in the comfortable armchair he had claimed before any of the others had had the chance. He appeared to prepare himself to tell a long story. "Oh and Virginia, it's kind of a scary story so you might wanna move closer to Jet"
Virginia responded by sticking out her tongue at him. She then glanced over at said boy who didn't seem to be paying much attention to anything being said in the room. Unexpectedly she then did exactly what Gallows had suggested; she got up from her spot on the floor and walked over to sit next to her young friend.
"If Jet's going to stay here then I'm staying with him" She declared seemingly out of the blue, grasping hold of his arm demonstrating her resolve.
"Huh?" Jet wondered with the feeling he'd missed some important piece of conversation.
"B-But you haven't even heard the story yet!" exclaimed Gallows, surprised by the girl's sudden statement. Her affections for the boy could very well ruin his plans for the night: the private haunted house experience he was about to create just for Jet, the annoying nonbeliever.
"Please Gallows," Virginia rolled with her eyes, "we all know you're just making stuff up to scare Jet. There's no horrible, bloody history to this place. The owners probably just got tired of living out in the middle of nowhere and moved into town."
Gallows donned a grumpy look but refrained from answering with a witty comeback for the simple reason he couldn't think of one.
"Party-pooper…" he muttered sullenly turning away to pout in another direction.
"If you're going to stay here" Virginia turned to watch Jet capturing his violet eyes with hers, "I'll keep you company." She squeezed his hand in an affectionate manner that he found disgustingly cute.
"Uh, you don't have to…"
"I want to."
"Really, I'll be fine by myself."
"Cut the macho crap, Jet. I said I want to."
"Why would you want to stay here?"
"Who cares why? You should just be grateful!"
Listening to their conversation, Gallows was struck by a revelation. A revelation that helped him bounce right back up after the depressing rebound of his earlier scheme.
"You're… scared of Virginia, aren't you?" He could barely suppress the laughter bubbling inside his stomach. "You're not scared of ghost and vengeful spirits but of girls!"
"What!?" Virginia and Jet exclaimed simultaneously but for somewhat different reasons.
"Is that true, Jet?" Virginia then demanded watching him intently.
Jet began sweating profoundly sporting a pale complexion in par with his hair. Gallows would pay later for bringing this up. Yes he would pay dearly, but faced with Virginia's piercing blue gaze the thought did very little to comfort him.
"W-Why would I be scared…" he had to stop and swallow hard, "of Virginia? She's… uh, harmless."
Gallows could no longer contain himself and burst out into violent laughter. The panicky look on Jet's face was utterly priceless. These were the moments he lived for.
The mentioned girl continued to watch him intently. He was evidently nervous and it concerned her greatly. She didn't very much like the idea that he was frightened of her. After all, they were supposed to be friends and having personally taken upon herself the arduous task of turning him into a happy, positive sunshine kind of person, this could prove a great obstacle.
Clive was satisfied just quietly watching the amusing scene develop in front of him, adjusting his glasses from time to time. As the elder one he felt no need to interfere in the business of the younger team members.
"Ok, we have a change of plans." Virginia spoke as the thundering laughter of the Baskar slowly faded into quieter giggling, "Your new task is to stay here one night with me."
"Task? What the hell are you talking about!? When did this turn into a freaking game show?" Jet was more than happy to share his negative thoughts concerning the idea, "And why do we have to stay here, anyway?"
"It'll help conquer your fear of spending time alone with me" Virginia clarified matter-of-factly.
"I told you, I'm not afraid."
"Come on Jet. Think of it as a team building exercise!" the girl exclaimed happily, receiving approving nods from the other two team members.
"Uh… how is that any better? And what team? It's just going to be you and me!" Jet argued. For some odd reason his mind brought up a certain tidbit of information regarding quicksand: the more you struggle, the more it sucks you in.
"Exactly! How will we work as a team if you are afraid of spending time with me?" Virginia reasoned while Clive and Gallows continuously nodded in agreement, apparently seeing the wisdom in her words.
Jet took a deep breath of dusty air. She was very much like Teflon, he realized; nothing he said in protest ever stuck.
"For the last time: I'm not afraid!!"
Whatever will happen next!?
Seriously. My guess is as good as yours.