Evelyn Stones

September 14, 2020 4:02 PM

Ness for president! [Tag Ness] by Evelyn Stones

Evelyn was bubbling with excitement and a little bit of nervousness. Ness had seemed . . . off after the previous night's first game of the final campaign. That, she supposed, could be said of all of them. An era had ended, a moment was gone, and all in the flash of a single evening. Or several upcoming evenings, but still. She had regretted a bit that she hadn't brought Ness' gift to the game but it seemed more appropriate this way, and since the Aladren commons was so near where they played, there was no way Evelyn would have been able to run back to her dorm and bring it back before curfew. This way, she could take the time she needed.

The basket was ridiculous. It was full of wrapped goodies, many of them from the kitchens, and as many of the snacks and sweets as Evelyn had been able to bum off other students or find herself as she could. She'd even gone so far as asking Ms. Heidi whether she'd be able to send her any. She probably wasn't supposed to do that, but it worked out, and the candy was now accompanied by a tube of fresh parchment scrolls and a fancy new quill. It was a more elaborate gift than she'd gotten for Gary, but that only made sense. If there was anyone in the world she was going to be elaborate for, it was Ness. This was thematic, as there was a card in the top with a rough hand-drawn image of a smiling earth and moon, magicked to move around each other. Underneath it said, You're my world!, and twinkled happily.

She bounced into Cascade Hall with a grin and made her way to the Aladren table, taking a seat beside Ness and beaming at her friend. "I didn't want to do this in front of everyone because I didn't want you to have to Share," she explained. "Plus, Gary hadn't said for sure if you were going to be the new president and I didn't want to risk guessing. But I was right!" She pushed the basket towards Ness. It included some boxes of grape juice, a throwback to their late night adventures at Ness' home over Christmas break. "You're going to be the best club president ever."
22 Evelyn Stones Ness for president! [Tag Ness] 1422 1 5

Ness McLeod

September 23, 2020 7:41 AM

The best... by Ness McLeod

Ness sat at dinner, feeling pretty miserable with the state of the world. Everything was wrong, and to top it off, the vegetarian option at dinner was goulash. Ness wasn't the biggest fan of goulash, and to add insult to injury, one of the meat options was lasagne. Ness loved lasagne, but there was very rarely veggie lasagne on the school menu and even when there was, they didn't make it right. Mom made two kinds of veggie lasagne that were both super awesome, and Ness was trying to decide which one to ask for the first night back. The spinach and ricotta one was the traditional veggie lasagne in their house, the one Ness had grown up with, but the recently discovered butternut squash and mushroom one was delicious... That was assuming Ness got to choose, of course. Evelyn would be coming back too. Which was almost normal at this point, it wasn't like it was the first time Ev had been there for most of the summer but...

Ness tried to shrug off grumpy thoughts about Evelyn, but it was hard when those were new and unwelcome feelings, and when dinner wasn't doing a very good job of being distracting. Normally, Ness might have resorted to retreating into a fantasy world, going through the D&D adventures of the previous night, imagining different ways they might have gone or what epic scenes might lay ahead. But of course, right now, that path just led right back to the same brain space that Ness was so desperately trying to avoid...

That, however, was made even more difficult by the problem personified waltzing into the hall with a large basket. Hmph. Who was going to be next to be special recipient of the Being So Special to Evelyn award? Ness tried to avoid eye contact but still watch, and thus saw Evelyn approaching. The basket was forcibly pushed into Ness' consciousness, its little card prominent. Probably Heinrich then. That was the sort of mushy crap people said to be romantic, even though it probably was unhealthily co-dependent.

But it was... for Ness? This was a DMing gift? Ness was... Ness was confused. This felt nice, but it also didn't because of everything that had happened yesterday, and Evelyn could slap a gift tag on something that said 'You're my world!' but what was that supposed to mean? What was to say that wasn’t going to be handed over to someone else, or replaced or- It was very, very ironic of Evelyn to come in saying this was happening now so that Ness didn’t have to share. And also you were supposed to say ‘thank you’ when you got a gift.

“Thanks,” Ness said, flatly and automatically. And then, “You called Gary your best friend,” Ness pointed out, the betrayal evident.
13 Ness McLeod The best... 1419 0 5

Evelyn Stones

September 23, 2020 5:17 PM

MY best friend. by Evelyn Stones

Evelyn probably looked ridiculous when her mouth popped open in utter shock. That was about the last thing she expected Ness to say, and she blinked a few times to clear her surprise as she closed her mouth again. "What?" she asked automatically and a little blankly, more expressing the big question mark in her head than anything else.

Ness was . . . jealous?? That didn't make any sense. Ness was Evelyn's best friend since day one. Her confidante, her co-conspirator, her partner in crime . . . how could Ness doubt that over a phrase that wasn't meant half so exclusively as the Aladren had apparently taken it? Evelyn was pretty sure that even Gary hadn't been confused thinking he'd suddenly been promoted over Ness and Heinrich. That's not what it meant at all.

"No," she finally said. "I meant that he's been the best of friends to all of us." She cocked her head, remembering a line of thought she'd briefly entertained when Ness had first acted odd the previous night. "It didn't seem appropriate to start ranking people at the table. Can you only have one best friend? Heinrich is my best friend too. But you're . . ." She bit her lip, feeling wobbly as she wondered if maybe the problem was that Ness didn't actually want to be her best friend anyway. It felt like the sort of thing that someone would come up with to be upset about just to find an excuse to get out of the relationship. It made so little sense otherwise. She dropped her gaze, looking down at her hands. Crying was stupid and she'd done too much of it the past few years; it had become a natural first response to this sort of thing, a sign that she was diving into the same old insecurities.

She tried to do what Dr. Greene had taught her to do while she did the breathing Professor Wright had taught her to do: ask herself what logically and rationally made sense. Ness sounded hurt, and that fact stuck out like a beacon to dispel any notion that Ness didn't want to be her friend. There had been a misunderstanding - probably Evelyn's fault, but she wasn't about to let herself go down the blame game right now - and Ness was . . . insecure? Sad? Something? Ness was something.

"I'm sorry," she said softly and sincerely, looking up at Ness again. "I didn't mean it like that at all. I meant like . . . like he's tops. He's great. He's the best of friends. But he's not you. You're my best friend in the world. More of a sibling. You're my world," she said a little sadly, nudging the card. "I didn't mean to upset you. I'm just sad he's going and I wanted him to know how much we all care. I guess I didn't think it through very well."
22 Evelyn Stones MY best friend. 1422 0 5

Ness McLeod

September 25, 2020 8:12 PM

One of many, apparently by Ness McLeod

“No, it wouldn’t be,” Ness stated, as Evelyn said it wouldn’t be appropriate to start ranking people at the table. Except, whilst that might have been a point they agreed about, Ness’ tone suggested something very different. The fact that the Aladren also burst into tears was probably a pretty strong indicator that what Ev had just said had not made everything better. And no, Heirnich was Ev’s boyfriend. Ness didn’t correct her out loud, but he was different. That was why it was okay. Sure, Ness hoped Heinrich and Evelyn were good friends too, but they were dating and that meant he was something different to what Ness was. Evelyn’s excuse about Gary sounded pretty weak too.

And now Ev was crying. Ev was crying, which meant Ness was mean and had ruined both Evelyn’s surprises. Ness was going to have to patch it all up and take care of Evelyn and be the one who was sorry, even though Evelyn was the one who had called someone else her best friend, and even though Ness had been crying first. When was Ness allowed to be hurt or upset? This wasn’t even about any of Evelyn’s stuff, so maybe it was actually Ness’ turn to be hurt and be taken care of - but apparently, Evelyn wanted to take that away too.

Ness knew you couldn’t yell at someone to just stop crying. It was amazing how tempting it was though.

“Great friend. Awesome. Fantastic,” Ness pointed out a few of the many, many ways Evelyn could have expressed her idea to Gary without using the word ‘best.’ If she had actually wanted to. Maybe Gary was her best friend now. Maybe Heinrich was. It obviously wasn’t a word that Evelyn found particularly important or significant.

“And am I even allowed to say how I feel? Ever?” Ness challenged, “Because right now, I feel like I’m the baddie here. Or like you have plenty of other people lined up to be your new best friend if I’m ever mad at you.”
13 Ness McLeod One of many, apparently 1419 0 5

Evelyn Stones

September 25, 2020 8:30 PM

What's your problem??? by Evelyn Stones

Evelyn blinked, taken aback by Ness' response. The tone made it quite clear that this was not a matter they agreed on, even if they used the same words. The Aladren bursting into tears played a big role in Evelyn doing the same, however, as she wasn't sure how often she made people cry but it was pretty rarely and she felt awful about it. The fact that she'd done it by being so completely unaware of something made her think it wasn't even that she was rude or mean, just stupid.

Ness seemed really pissed off though. Like way more pissed off than Evelyn really thought was fair. Even if she was stupid, she'd made a mistake. She thought it was pretty obvious that she hadn't meant it the way Ness was taking it and Ness seemed way more angry about that than seemed justified to Evelyn. Or maybe that was because Evelyn was also broken somehow? Like she couldn't empathise with people because of something wrong in her brain?

She'd screwed up, that much was obvious, but the nature of it was eluding her. Why was Ness pissed off at her just for having made a mistake? Evelyn wasn't allowed to say things unless they were perfectly carefully crafted and every word was chosen with precision? English didn't have words like that all the time, and what kind of crappy gift would it have been to have put "almost best friend" on Gary's badge? Or "great." Who just put "great" on someone's badge? That wasn't even the point of the gift.

She wasn't sure whether she was more sad or angry or hurt and whether any of those were directed more at herself or at Ness. "You're always allowed to," Evelyn replied a little more sharply than she meant to. "And I've always told you that. And no, actually, I don't have anyone else 'lined up' because I don't have anyone else that means as much to me as you do. I didn't realize I needed to put that in writing, Ness. After all these years, after everything we've been through together, I thought you just . . . knew. How could you not know?" She could hear herself veering dangerously close towards gaslighting, which was not a good look for anyone and not something she wanted to dip into, but she understood a little more now how easy it was to go there when the other person was being so severely obtuse that it seemed ridiculous to even start to validate their feelings. She took a breath regardless, because as pissed off as she was starting to be too, she really did care. "I screwed up. And I upset you. You seem like this is just what set you off maybe?" she said hesitantly, doing a very good job of focusing on her questions instead of her feelings because her feelings were a mess. "Has something been bothering you before now?" she asked.
22 Evelyn Stones What's your problem??? 1422 0 5

Ness McLeod

September 30, 2020 8:14 AM

Oh, am I allowed a turn at having them? by Ness McLeod

“Really? Cos this seems like the first time I’ve really been upset with you, and you seem mad at me for it,” Ness pointed out, when Evelyn made claims about always having been allowed to talk about feelings. That was just bull. Ness couldn’t recall a time when Evelyn had said that - it had always been Ness having to say it to Evelyn. And Ness would have opened up without needing specific invitation because it was just an unwritten rule of friendship. But so was not calling someone else your best friend. And, even if Evelyn hadn’t been the one to specify them, there were a whole heap of things that Ness was definitely not allowed to say to Evelyn. What you’ve gone through is really hard on me. Your life makes our friendship complicated. I wish I didn’t have to hear this stuff. There were Correct Responses and Circle Principles and Ness had to absolutely watch and censor a whole bunch of thoughts all the time. And that was fair. Those were good rules. But none of that was anything to do with this. Why did it have to feel like it applied now? It made it complicated because you could never be mad at Evelyn over anything. Why, for once, couldn’t Ness be in the middle of something? And Ness already knew the answer to that… Like Evelyn had wanted all the ‘special attention’ for the stuff with her dad. Like she had been thrilled to constantly be the focus of all those things. Obviously she hadn’t. And Ness wasn’t even saying that and would never. But that meant when Evelyn ‘finally’ got something nice, you just had to shut up and let her have it. Why couldn’t Evelyn be the centre of something nice instead of something horrible for once? That was how that would go, and that made sense, but then when was it ever Ness’ turn to be special or important?

There had been precisely two places where the Aladren had had that, which had made it bearable to deal with all the other things; one, with Evelyn herself, and secondly with the D&D group. Not that Ness was the centre of D&D, but the Aladren had been important there. Ness had known Gary and been part of the game for longer than anyone else now left at the table, and was the reason why half of them were there. Ness had felt special to Evelyn and special at D&D, and with one gesture, the person who was claiming that Ness was so important had pushed the Aladren to the side in both those places. Now everything was all about Evelyn. Again.

Had there been a problem before now? Was this just the proverbial straw… Ness had to say ‘no’ because all of the other straws were the things that it wasn’t fair to complain about. And they hadn’t been a problem. Not really. Ness had been happy to give Evelyn what she needed. When what she needed was Ness, and love, and comfort though. Not when what she needed was the few little things that Ness had had.

“No,” Ness answered whether anything had happened before this. Before this it had felt like hard work but it hadn’t felt like any kind of stab in the back. This was different. “Look, I know a lot of stuff has sucked in your life. No one is arguing that. But have you actually stopped and looked around at what you have here? You have everything. You wanna take over gardening club? Fine, Parker thinks you’re great. You want to go palling about with Nathaniel? Sure, he’s randomly on board with that. You make friends like it’s easy, all the while saying it’s so hard being you, trusting whether anyone really likes you. Well, guess what, they all do! Gary was the first person I made friends with outside of you and that wasn’t until third year. And you-” Ness stifled a sob. “Maybe the rest of us would have liked some say in how we said goodbye to him too. Seeing as you wanted your badge to say what a good friend he’s been to all of us,” Ness emphasised Evelyn’s own choice of words. “Or maybe, if you’re so desperate for absolutely everyone to love you, there’s a whole school. You didn’t have to pick the one and only other person who’s actually my friend and act like- like-” Like he was more important than Ness was. Like Evelyn was closer to him than Ness was. The rest of the sentence tailed off with another sob.

And who could Ness go to? When you were upset, who were your resources? The other Aladren prefects. Which, oh right, were Evelyn’s boyfriend and the person she’d just stabbed Ness in the back both for and over. Or her Head of House. Who had Evelyn as his special favourite. Not that Ness could be bitter about any of that because of course Evelyn’s special lessons with Professor Wright weren’t a thing to be jealous of cos they came from such a bad place. It didn’t change the fact that Evelyn had made every single person here’s life revolve around her, and that if Ness was ever upset or jealous, it simply wasn’t going to be allowed, and there was nowhere to take it.
13 Ness McLeod Oh, am I allowed a turn at having them? 1419 0 5

Evelyn Stones

September 30, 2020 12:09 PM

You only need your own permission. by Evelyn Stones

"This is the first time?" Evelyn demanded, forgetting for a moment that she was trying to help Ness. "Because you sure seemed pissed off when I was trying to figure out things with my dad and was planning on going home. How come you get to be mad at me when I make a mistake and try to realize that and go back and explain where I was coming from and try to fix it? I'm not mad at you, I'm frustrated that you're mad at me and I don't understand why you're so mad at me. Because I didn't choose my words perfectly carefully?"

She wanted to rip her own hair out when Ness started giving the 'I know your life is hard' speech because that was not a card Evelyn ever tried to pull. She went out of her way to make sure she didn't ask for any dispensation for that and she tried not to ask for help even. She took on extra work and she did things extra hard just to be sure that she wasn't the point. She went out of her way to be friends with everyone she could just to make sure that she was being something positive in other people's lives and now Ness was upset because of that? How was she supposed to win? "Don't say that," she practically growled. "Just don't. My life is not the point and it's no excuse for anything. I make friends with people because I go out of my way to be friendly and bubbly. Is it really that surprising that I'd think maybe they wouldn't want to be my friend if they got to know any more than that about me? And I didn't think I needed to worry about thinking maybe you didn't like me but now I'm finding out you didn't even know we were best friends!" She was going to respond to the part about Gary and everyone having a say in how they said goodbye until Ness went off about everyone loving her and the color drained from Evelyn's face.

It wasn't fair that she should have her hard work and desperate attempts to get on like a normal human thrown back at her. "You are absolutely closer to Gary than me," Evelyn said quietly. "You can't act like your friends aren't going to have other friends, or even be friends with each other. Why are you so unsure of yourself and your friendships? You were furious at Gary when he talked about having Morgan do this," she pointed out sharply, pushing the basket a little bit. "And he screwed up there. And he tried to explain and to fix it. And now you're furious with me because I'm friends with Gary and tried to express it. And I screwed up. And I tried to explain and to fix it. But you can't just be furious with people for making mistakes just because you're feeling insecure, Ness." Evelyn choked on her own sob, hating to see Ness cry, but bit it back, not wanting to make this about herself since that was apparently a thing she did all the time. "You are one of the smartest, funniest, cutest, nicest people I know, with the biggest heart for other people. Where's your heart for yourself? Do you just not get that you friggin' matter to people? Because you do! You matter so much! Why don't you get that me being friends with Gary doesn't mean I have less room to care about you?"
22 Evelyn Stones You only need your own permission. 1422 0 5

Ness McLeod

October 07, 2020 6:40 AM

Apparently not by Ness McLeod

What was so wrong here? Why was everything Evelyn said making Ness want to scream? Why did none of it match up with how Ness saw things? It was scary and disorienting to feel like they didn’t agree at all, on anything - that rather than getting better, this felt like it was getting bigger and bigger each time one of them drew breath.

First off, how was the example of Evelyn going home related? Ness had been upset when Evelyn had blindsided them all with a really crappy piece of information. The badge thing was thought through – at least, in theory. And Ness hadn’t wanted Evelyn to go or to get hurt. But the Aladren hadn’t tried to stop her or influence her. Ness hadn’t begged her not to go or told her she was being selfish or stubborn or that she was risking hurting everyone who cared about her. So, no, Ness didn’t think it stacked up as example of… what point was Evelyn even trying to prove right now? That Ness was allowed feelings, or that Ness wasn’t?

“What’s the difference between being mad at someone and being frustrated at them being mad at you? It’s just a mildly lower level of being pissed about my feelings? Well, gee thanks, I feel so much better,” Ness responded, to one of the many points that didn’t make sense, not quite able to let that one go.

But it just kept going and going – apparently, all Evelyn had done was ‘be nice’ and ‘try.’ Wow, if only Ness had thought of that! And was Evelyn saying Ness wasn’t those things? It felt like a familiar refrain from what Gary had said about running games. Had they been talking to each other about Ness? Or was it just the case that even the people who liked Ness didn’t actually think ‘nice’ was one of the Aladren’s qualities? Evelyn stuck a few low blows in too, acting like it was Ness who had said they weren’t friends and then… Then also a bunch of stuff that made Ness feel squishy and want to hug Evelyn and cry and be loved, because that was what seemed to be on offer but at the same time, Evelyn had just said so many crappy and illogical things.

“What’s going on here is that I would never call anyone except you my best friend. But you’ve just admitted that you would. Apparently, you feel happy throwing that around like it doesn’t mean something special. Well, it did to me. And you’ve what… apologised, but then in the next breath you’re telling me that I shouldn’t even be upset, and then that I’m allowed to feel whatever I want to feel, but also acting like I’m the one who devalued our friendship by having any kind of doubts – oh, and that this is some kind of level playing field. Where you got everything by just trying harder than I did? It can’t possibly be that people like happy little blonde girls more than queer nerds. So, if I want more friends what’s your advice exactly – that I try harder, or that I stop being myself and be more likeable? Cos neither of those exactly sounds like a compliment.”
13 Ness McLeod Apparently not 1419 0 5

Evelyn Stones

October 07, 2020 1:35 PM

Then stop asking for mine. by Evelyn Stones

"Because I'm... I'm . . . " Why were words so hard? She was usually okay at them and now she couldn't get any of them to work. Or maybe she was never any good at any of them in the first place and that was exactly the problem. "I'm sad. And I'm surprised. And I'm hurt. And I don't understand how you got to angry because I made a mistake." She huffed her words out in something between a sigh and a pout. It was not fair, but she wasn't about to say that out loud.

"Because 'best friend' isn't good enough!!!" she shouted, quickly recoiling into a quieter voice, no small amount of disgust for herself on her face. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to yell. 'Best friends' are the people you hang out with a lot and stuff and you have inside jokes with and they're just the closest people in your circle of friends. You're so much more than that, Ness. You're my sibling, you're my partner in crime, you're literally doing life with me and figuring this out with me and taking care of me and loving me and you make everything better except now I screwed it all up and I'm sorry." It all came out fast and wet because she was trying not to cry and she refused to cry but she was maybe crying a little bit. "Of course you're my best friend, but best friends don't literally adopt you when your mom leaves and your dad dies and the world is falling apart. You're family and you're so much more than my best friend, Ness."

She hung her head, hating herself when Ness dismissed Evelyn's own merit in the friendships she had. "Yeah, people like happy little blonde girls more than queer nerds. I wonder why I worry they don't really care about me as a person?" she said pointedly, albeit not quite sarcastically. "Yeah, if you want more friends, stop being yourself. Because that's how you get to be friends with a whole bunch of people who don't know you very well and you can never really trust to care about you. It works super great," she said bitterly.

All the doubts that minded themselves in the back of her head came forcefully to the front, reminding her that Nathaniel only liked her as long as she needed him and as long as they pretended she wasn't a half-blood near-squib, and Malikhi only liked her as long as she was friendly and happy for the both of them because he couldn't be anymore, and Hilda only liked her as long as she was sort of stuck with her and as long as she practiced German, and Gary only liked her as long as she was funny and helpful. Because there weren't that many people in the world that actually liked her and she tried not to think about it, but if Ness said it then it was probably true. She didn't really have the right to be upset about that, because her favorite people really did like her. Or at least, Heinrich did. Or at least, she was pretty sure he did. Maybe they didn't either? Maybe Ness didn't like her and Heinrich didn't like her and none of this meant anything to any of them, except she was the happy little blonde girl.

"You're useless, Lyn. I should've known he's not your boyfriend. Who’d want to be your boyfriend?”

She shook her head. This wasn't about her and it definitely wasn't about her father.

"If you want lots of friends, be someone else. If you want good friends, be yourself. Although I guess you got me, so I'm not sure you really get good friends that way either," she said, her voice hitching miserably.
22 Evelyn Stones Then stop asking for mine. 1422 0 5

Ness McLeod

October 18, 2020 5:21 AM

I have lost track of whether I should agree or disagree with that by Ness McLeod

“I’m not angry!” Ness huffed, admittedly slightly angrily. But that was only just kicking in now because this was frustrating. Ness hadn’t started out mad at EvEvelyn. Ness had started out feeling betrayed, which was… well, maybe there was an argument to say there was some angry in there, but mostly it was pushed out and cold and hurt feeling. “I’m sad,” Ness returned, when Evelyn claimed all the feelings that Ness would have chosen. “I’m surprised and hurt. How come you’re allowed to be those things, but I’m not? How come you jump straight to thinking-” -I’m angry. Except Ness knew the answer to that already.

And then Evelyn yelled, and then was sorry for yelling, and Ness felt the simultaneous spike of feeling guilty at making Evelyn feel all her past worries, but also the slight bitterness that this was exactly part of the problem right now, in that there just wasn’t room for Ness to be hurt without it becoming about Evelyn. You couldn’t be mad and yell, and that was fair, but apparently you couldn’t be sad because Evelyn would read that as mad, and that wasn’t her fault, but it really wasn’t Ness’ either. It was the fault of some lousy scum who was now six feet under, and Ness kinda wanted to go visit his grave just to get the closest it was possible to get to calling him a douchebag to his face.

And then they were back to the Evelyn pity party, as apparently all those friends she had just didn’t get her. Whatever. And she was complaining that maybe Ness thought she was lousy and just urgh.

“I want to be best friends,” Ness stated, grumpily and tearfully. “I… I mean, yeah, the other stuff is nice but…” but like Evelyn had said, there wasn’t a word for it. It was what was in movies and in stories. There was the best friend. And later, there was romance and stuff, but the person who got to be the main part of your story outside of that got that label. And it was this whole big thing. This stupid, perfect crazy thing where they got you like a sibling was supposed to only without all the annoyance of having grown up together or being older and having ‘done it all first.’ Sometimes book siblings were best friends too, and that made Ness jealous as well, because that would have been cool to have. But it was okay to not have that, so long as there was Evelyn. “I always wanted a really special best friend growing up. The person who was gonna be… well, like all those things you just said.” Okay, even Ness’ wild imagination had probably not planned half the stuff Evelyn had just listed, but the general principle was there. “You don’t get two of those.”
13 Ness McLeod I have lost track of whether I should agree or disagree with that 1419 0 5

Evelyn Stones

October 18, 2020 8:45 PM

I don't know how to convince you that I love you. by Evelyn Stones

Evelyn bit her lip, determined not to cry and not to be sad and not to be angry and not to have any feelings at all if it meant that Ness felt like there wasn't room for Ness Feelings. There had been a time when Evelyn had been really good at making herself small, but if the look on Ness' face was anything to go by, she wasn't doing such a bang up job anymore, and she wasn't sure how to fix that. "You can be all those things," she said quietly. "I can't . . . I can't just not be me. Sometimes you look at me like . . . like you're seeing who Ms. Heidi sees. Maybe I just think that's what you're seeing, but I do think that. You look at me like you're just seeing what other people have done to me and I don't want you to see those things. But I can't stop being the person who's been through those things, so I don't know how to make you stop seeing that. You can be sad and hurt and frustrated, and I'm really trying not to be whatever you see when you look at me like that, or when I think you look at me like that. But I can't if I don't know what you're thinking, and you don't usually tell me. Just tell me what you're feeling so I can be there for you. Ideally before we're to this point," she added a little grimly, gesturing around them. "I don't know how to make this better, but I don't want you to give up on me," she said.

Evelyn nodded, giving up on trying not to cry and settling for crying quietly as Ness got more tearful. "I want to be best friends too," she said. "You are my really special best friend and we have grown up together sort of and I... I won't use that word - phrase? - for anyone again. I didn't think it through, and I'm really really sorry." Saying she was wrong was really really hard. It wasn't something she had to do often, not necessarily because she wasn't often wrong, and she sort of hated it. She also hated how far away she felt from Ness. She wanted to wrap the Aladren up in the biggest hug and offer pets and snuggles and make everything better but she wasn't sure if that was going to help anyway. She just hoped it wasn't too late to be able to fix. Did people receiver from these sorts of arguments? It seemed silly not to when the crux of the argument seemed to be that they both loved each other a lot, but she wasn't sure. "I'm . . . probably not going to ask Gary for his badge back, that seems rude," she admitted, "But I really mean it when I say you're my most bestest friend, Ness. And I will be more careful with my words. And I know that's not enough. I'll do whatever you want - how can I make this fixed?"
22 Evelyn Stones I don't know how to convince you that I love you. 1422 0 5