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Latest revision as of 15:58, 28 June 2020

A cheerful heart is a good medicine
Dramatis Personae

Ion, Leo, Polaris, Scramble

2019-12-14


"The fuck we been doing sitting around here for?"

Location

<NYC> New York Aquarium - Coney Island


"Wait no shit?" Ion is not using his Indoor Voice right now -- crowded as the aquarium is on a weekend afternoon, it's drawing a few disapproving glances from parents at adjacent tables trying to corral their squads of small children. Probably his much-patched MMMC cut is drawing some of the disapproval, too; together with his regular jeans and heavy boots, today it's paired with a fluffy red and white Santa hat. Wide eyed, only half sitting in his seat at all, one leg on the floor and one knee planted on his chair, he's leaning forward with his palm braced on the chipped cafe table, the fish taco in his other hand forgotten. "You making that shit up, right? This fucker," now he's waving the taco in Leo's direction, though he's looking up from the table to inform Polaris with an ardent sort of glee, "{this fucking nerd says jellyfish are immortal? You believe that shit? Do we believe that shit? Nah I take it back I'd believe fucking anything you tell me about the ocean this place weird as hell.}" He's shaking his head, exhaling a sharp breath as he drops more heavily back into his seat. "This is why I stay out the ocean, yo. Got enough problems in my life without running into some other bastard gonna zap me and it can't die? No thanks. Disrespectful is what that is."

Polaris turns the chair left empty for her around and straddles it, setting her tray with chicken sandwich and waffle fries down on the table in front of her. She's wearing a black-and-purple striped longsleeve shirt under a black babydoll shirt with a metallic foil graphic of a compass rose on the chest, and rugged black jeans, plus thick black leather wrist cuffs, belt, and boots--all liberally decorated with metal hardware. Her green hair is pulled back into a single loose braid, and she wears smoky purple eyeshadow set off with dramatically winged metallic green eyeliner, and green-purple duochrome lipstick that matches glossy nail polish with an uncanny chatoyence effect. She's plucked up a fry and is just about to pop it into her mouth, but pauses and raises dark green eyebrows high at Ion's revelation. "{'Immortal' mean what it sounds like it mean? Never die?}" Her Spanish is extremely broken, but she doesn't seem much put off by this. "Shit, I gotta ask B what they talk about down there. I mean can they like--remember the dinosaurs? Do they have enough brains to remember things?" She pauses, frowning. "Do they have brains, period?!"

Seated across the table, quietly nibbling at a crab roll, Leo is drawing far less reproach than Ion. He's wearing, today, a blue satin vest with subtle wave-like texture over a black button-down with blue edge-stitching and a deep blue tie populated with innumerable translucent white moon jellies, slim slate gray slacks, and black slip-on boots. He's wearing, also, an only slightly bemused smile that started as just a small twitch at one side of his mouth but has slowly, slowly been growing as Ion speaks. "It's not all jellyfish," he finally replies. "Only one species. If they experience too much stress they may go through a process of transdifferentiation -- mm. essentially they can reset to a less mature stage in their life cycle. They are biologically immortal, not -- not invincible. It would be like if you could turn yourself back into a teenager. You wouldn't die from growing old, yes? But someone could still just shoot you." He wipes his fingertips delicately against the folded napkin beside his plate -- a second, unfolded in his lap, is still pristine -- and frowns thoughtfully at Polaris. "They do not have brains, but they have a distributed kind of simple nervous system. I don't know if they -- would remember -- um." His fingertips are still brushing in small repetitive strokes against the napkin. "Did you say -- why would -- um. Ask B what they talk about?"

"Shit, you could tell me pretty much any ass nonsense about the ocean and I'd believe it." Scramble says dryly, the corner of her mouth twitching up. "{Well, I'd believe it from him, anyway.}" She tips her Coke at Leo, the twitch blossoming into a full smile. "{If you said they were invincible -- hey, the ocean is scary and ridiculous like that.}" She's wearing a red v-neck sweater with her own MMMC cut, tight blue jeans, and engineer boots. Gold bangles match her hoop earrings and the simple gold ankh hanging from a black cord around her neck. "But yeah, she can talk to fish?" Shrugs. "Not sure if jellyfish count, though."

"What!!" The intensity of Ion's voice is only growing. "How you gonna tell me they swimming around down there, no brains at all? And without no brains they just -- go back in fucking time?" His cheek sucks dismissively against his teeth. "{Next time I see God, we're having strong words.}" He rocks back in his chair, the cheap plastic seat teetering precariously on its rear legs. "Why aint you work here, man? Tell 'em get some more jellyfishs in here. Like them creep-ass mobster looking eels is funny and all but these jellyfish they're wild. You want a new job here? You the first person in this place tell me the important shit anyway."

Polaris too-hastily swallows the fry she'd been chewing on with a pained wince. "Whoa, so if they can remember and if she can ask them, they could be like...little tiny organic recordings floating around in the ocean since the dawn of time." By the end here her voice has dropped down to a reverent stage whisper. "Oh man, that's like literally the thing you do best. You're like--" She snaps her fingers "--fucking, Bill Nye the Science Guy crossed with Aquaman. Think of all the creepy sea-critter facts you could be imparting on The Youth."

Leo's brows knit deeper. "{Moray eels are also,}" he replies slowly, "{-- wild. They have a second set of jaws hidden in their throat. When they're attacking prey they hold them with one set,}" he holds up a hand, fingers clamping together in demonstration, "{and then the second set lunges forward to tear at the prey,}" his other hand pushes up from under his closed fingers, snatching at something invisible and then retracting, "{-- and yank it back down into their their throat.}" This is relayed with an offhand sort of distraction, clearly second fiddle to the much more awed: "B can really talk to fish?" His cheeks have darkened at the praise, and he looks down at his plate with a small shake of his head. "I -- I couldn't work here. I can't work most places."

Scramble slow-blinks at Leo. "Ex*cuse* me?" Her voice is extremely flat. "Aight, {I'm joining you, Ion. Never swimming in the ocean again.} I ain't about that Alien bullshit." She shrugs her bony shoulders. "Either she can, or it's a really long running joke Shane's been pulling on us." Here she tilts her head, her affected disgust fled. "If it's something stopping you we can help, you speak right up."

"I'm sorry bro they got what!!" There's a sudden clatter, a sudden snap-pop, a brief crackle of blue-white sparks, a small jolt at the table. Ion's chair has toppled backwards to the ground; Ion himself, for an instant almost too quick to catch, is nowhere to be seen. He reappears at a corner of the table, standing between Scramble and Leo, the taco still in his hand shedding a few pieces of fish as he gathers himself. Rests an elbow against Scramble's shoulder as if he meant to be here all along, pops the slightly crisped remnants of his taco into his face. "That's some bullshits, man, you goddamn brilliant. You could work anywhere. You want to work here? We got connections, I'm sure we make it happen. Call it a Christmas present, huh? You just says the word."

Polaris actually chokes when she hears this vital fact about the moray eel, and chokes even harder when Ion disappears--though she seems not the least surprised at the location of his reappearance. "Dude, that is nearly as disturbing as it is awesome," she informs Leo solemnly once she's done coughing. "Those eels still look goofy as fuck, though, bigass mouth hanging open all the time." Then a beat later, with a cringe, "Mouths." She breaks into a sincere smile, though, as she picks up her sandwich. "Yeah, man I think Santa owes you some back presents. If you do go through with it, I'll totally bring you stuff from Evolve when you get sick of their food court."

Leo freezes at the clatter, his eyes wide and his hand pressing down flat against the napkin in front of him. His eyes immediately dart, not to Ion but to the tables around them, his shoulders curling just a little bit inward. A beat passes, then another, before he exhales slowly. Looks down at his food. A bit furtively back up at a neighboring table -- back down at his food. "No, I just. {Most places wouldn't hire me. I don't have the right --}" His lips press together, brief and thin. "{Paperwork.}" He gives a quick shake of his head before glancing up at Ion -- Polaris -- back to Ion. "You, um --" He looks at the Santa hat Ion wears, bites down on his lip. There's more than his usual level of uncertainty in his voice when he continues: "... you celebrate Christmas?"

Scramble bites back a rough guffaw at Ion's spill, and bears the jolt of his subsequent contact without even blinking twice. "Seriously, though, {we got people for that. They'll get you the right paperwork.}" Her eyes flick between Leo and Ion. "I mean, he's mainly wearing that on account of fuckin' SantaCon, but this guy is your friendly local Freak Santa, and I ain't lying." She picks at her own taco without much interest. "We're gonna throw a helluva Christmas party up at the safehouse next weekend, if that's your jam."

"Fuck your paperwork. You want to work, we make it happen, huh? Please, fam, we got people for that. We got --" Ion waggles one hand in the air, sucks some lime juice off a fingertip of his other. "-- 'least one person for that. Anyway, that's some bullshit is what that is, I ain't had no fucking green card do that stop me?" Another dismissive click of tongue on teeth makes this conclusively a rhetorical question. His eyes open huge, wide, after this, as he asks incredulously: "Who the fuck don't celebrate Christmas?"

Polaris seems to be struggling a bit to follow Leo's Spanish this time, repeating "{Paperwork}" quietly under her breath. Then, somewhere between the other two's comments, it clicks for her, but she doesn't look much surprised, her mouth pulling hard to one side. "That's some bullshit. Not you just--the immigration thing. I thought shit was fucked back before me and Wendy were in the labs." Her eyebrows lift up at Ion's question. "I mean--lots of people, probably? I don't, unless you count movie and Chinese food."

"{You -- really? You can -- do that?}" This time, the hesitation in Leo's voice is born out of a quiet sort of awe, his eyes wider as he looks over at Ion. He passes a hand across his forehead. His head gives a slow and uncertain shake. "Freak -- Santa -- con? I don't -- I didn't know if --" His cheeks are darkening again. "I used to celebrate. But that was before -- I was a --" He gestures between the others at the table, himself, all encompassing, before he concludes in a hushed voice, "-- like this."

"Hell, yeah." Scramble flashes Leo a smile. It turns into a sharper grin for Polaris. "Shit was fucked then, too, but there's always room for more fuckshit in this country." She shakes her head, earrings flashing in the watery light. "SantaCon is mostly just -- regular Santas getting drunk off they asses. As huge as that thing is, though, there's got to be more than just one festive freak. Probably none quite as festive as him, though." Her slim black eyebrows arch up-up-up. "Like -- this?" She copies Leo's gesture. "What, a mutant? Got news for you, hermano, you were still a mutant back before you knew it. The labs certainly put a damper on doing Christmas proper, but that sure ain't stopping us now. Doesn't have to stop you, neither."

"Shit's been fucked, gonna keep being fucked, please. You care about all that it gonna drive you crazy. You want a life, you make a goddamn life." Ion is on THIS side of the table now so here he's staying! He reaches out to snag an unused chair from a neighboring table, heedless of the scowl this earns him from the family seated at it -- they weren't using it! His chair is mysteriously indisposed. He returns the glares with a bright grin, spins the new chair around, drops down backwards into it. Plucks a fallen bit of onion off Scramble's plate to munch. "Huh?" His eyes have opened wider, aghast, at Polaris's reply. "Oh, no, sister, we fix that for you this year, huh? Maybe them fucking whitecoats steal all the joy but me and my dogs we do shit right? Wait, your new places, you not have no decorations yet? No trees?" The horror in his expression is growing. He grabs Scramble first to pull her to her feet. "The fuck we been doing sitting around here for?"

Polaris opens her mouth, then closes her mouth, then tilts her head at Leo and opens it again. Finally just indicates what Scramble said with upraised eyebrows before turning to Ion, wide-eyed. "What? No, no, I mean I really just celebrate what's important to my family..." She trails off, mouth open gain. "Oh." Her wide hazel eyes lift to Ion again. "Well. I mean Winona would love to have some Christmas stuff I think, and I don't think anyone else would mind. Hell, I love a good excuse to celebrate. And, you know..." Her smile is suddenly, uncharacteristically shy. "...I celebrate what's important to my family. So--where to?"

"{I do want a life.}" Leo is softly telling his half-empty plate of crab rolls this, his eyes wider and kind of wondering. He presses his palm flat against his napkin. Looks up with a slow pinch of brows. "I don't -- I didn't mean that I wasn't -- I just. I never. It wasn't part of. My --" He shakes his head slowly. "I didn't know. What's normal. My family has -- had -- our own traditions. But now --" He tapers off, for a moment just looking out across the crowded cafe, his gaze a little unfixed. It takes a second before it refocuses on his companions at the table. "I don't know what proper is. I'm not even really sure we can afford Christmas dinner? I was just going to go to Mass. I --" He glances to Polaris, his lips -- starting to twitch up, though his smile doesn't quite make it. "It would be nice to celebrate, I just." A small shrug.

"That, there's the spirit." Scramble stuffs the remainder of her taco into her mouth and lets Ion pull her to her feet, all angular joints and lanky limbs. She chews and swallows hastily. Take a last, long gulp of her coke, laughing brightly as soon as she has breath to do so. "Ain't no proper gonna cut it for Freak Santa, this is gon be off the hook, We'll make sure you got a Christmas dinner and a half, you feel me?" She slings an arm around Ion's shoulder and stretches out a hand to Leo. "Aight, y'all, let's go save Christmas."