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Latest revision as of 22:50, 12 May 2020

In Which Some Friends Are Unfortunately Reasonable On The Matter Of Potentially Unreasonable Activities
Dramatis Personae

Daiki, Peter, Taylor


"It's the opening to every dystopian sci-fi mini-series ever written."


<NYC> Evolve Cafe - Lower East Side

Spacious and open, this coffeeshop has a somewhat industrial feel to it, grey resin floors below and exposed-beam ceilings that have been painted up in a dancing swirl of abstract whorls and starbursts, a riot of colour splashed against a white background. The walls alternate between brick and cheerfully lime-green painted wood that extends to the paneling beneath the brushed-steel countertops. There's an abundance of light, though rather than windows (which are scarce) it comes from plentiful hanging steel lamps. The walls here are home to artwork available for sale; though the roster of prints and paintings and drawings and photographs changes on a regular basis it has one thing in common -- all the artists displayed are mutants.

The seating spaced around the room is spread out enough to keep the room from feeling cluttered. Black chairs, square black tables that mostly seat two or four though they're frequently pushed around and rearranged to make space for larger parties. In the back corner of the room is more comfortable seating, a few large black-corduroy sofas and armchairs with wide tables between them. There's a shelf of card and board games back here available for customers to sit and play.

The chalkboard menus hanging behind the counter change frequently, always home to a wide variety of drinks (with an impressive roster of fair-trade coffees and teas largely featured) though their sandwiches and wraps and soups and snacks of the day change often. An often-changing variety of baked goods sit behind the display case at the counter halfway back in the room, and the opposite side of the counter holds a small selection of homemade ice creams. A pair of single-user bathrooms flanks the stairway in back of the cafe; at night, the thump of music can be heard from above, coming from the adjoining nightclub of the same name that sits up the stairs above the coffeehouse.

It's a muddled, pale-gray part of the afternoon in the city -- brief spritzes of rain here and there -- when Peter shows up. The pale, lanky young man looks mildly frazzled; like someone who's been cooped up indoors for the better part of a month, stumbling out into the streets for the first time. He's donned a dark blue-black hoodie, thick enough to insulate against the chill in the air (and to hide whatever he's wearing beneath -- particularly those slim devices snugly fitted to either wrist). He keeps both hands shoved deep into his pockets as he steps inside, scanning the room.

There's a sort of haggard intensity about that first scan -- as if Peter's looking for something to go disastrously wrong. It softens after a moment, but it's still there, underneath the warm glow of familiarity. A hard knot, taut and fierce, ready to snap.

Daiki's at the back already, tucked into a corner of the comfortable couch with a cup of tea and a plate of fruit tarts on the table in front of him. He looks as put-together as ever in a crisp white poplin dress shirt and black slim-fit slacks, his gray skinny tie -- it has a subtle purple-green sheen from certain angles! -- knotted simply if neatly and his black derby shoes polished to a shine. A black leather attache case leans against the side of the couch by his leg, and a slick black sports jacket hangs from the coat tree nearby.

The wash of his power is probably noticeable to Peter first, but he shortly calls his attention to his person as well by waving one arm high overhead, sweeping it down to indicate the place that has been saved for him. << Peter! Oh, he's lost more weight than I thought -- or is he just *taller*? >> The surge of both joy and concern at actually seeing his friend face-to-face after so long is hard for him to subsume even with years of hard-earned discipline at keeping his emotions in check. A few heads turn to regard him, for the most part with neutral-to-pleasant curiosity -- though a few with annoyance and suspicion instead. He methodically reels his reaction back in, though his smile remains warm.

Taylor is draped in an armchair adjacent to Daiki, making his way through a large tuna salad sandwich. He looks much more casual than Daiki; old jeans, a tee that reads "I'm rooting for everybody black" in gold letters on black fabric. He lifts one flexible arm, waggles it at Peter. "Lotta people growing or shrinking during quarantine. Not -- usually growing upwards, though. That'd be a new one."

Peter *does* look a little thinner. Taller, maybe? A hint of sinkage in those cheeks. Not enough to be alarming, but enough to be noticeable. Rings under the eyes, too. That same energy he always has, but there's a nervous edge to it; frayed and jagged.

Peter's head is turning toward Daiki before he even waves to him; Daiki's presence can be like a klaxon in his mind, sometimes. << A handsome klaxon in a dapper shirt and tie. >> Peter's expression shifts into a smile at the sight of him; the smile deepens at the sight of Taylor. He navigates between the tables and drops his weight into the opposite end of the cot where Daiki is sitting, before immediately bouncing forward, slumping to drop the weight of his arms on his knees. "Hey. So, it's good to see you're both, uh..." << -- don't joke about -- >> "...still alive." In his head, there are more jagged, serrated edges. Rooftops rushing past underfoot at night. Designs for large Faraday bags.

Daiki seems complacent enough with Taylor's commentary on his fretting. "Well, you *young* men and your growth spurts," he replies breezily, like the *old* man he is, "who can say?" He still nudges the plate of tarts subtly in Peter's direction as he sits down. "It's good to see you, too, but I'm morbidly curious who you thought you've been talking to on our calls." His smile sharpens just a touch, and just for a moment -- not quite the grin that tries to come out. "How's May?"

"Nega-Daiki," Taylor suggests lightly in reply to Daiki. "Daiki Noir? Some kind of evil villain Daiki clone that's returned to take over your life? Off-brand Daiki replacement trying to stamp out all the evil in the world through --" He looks down at the table, lips twitching. "Delivering pastries? We here in 2020 man anything could be going on on the other side of that webcam." He reaches for his half-filled coffee, coiling one slim arm around it. Flicking a curious look to Peter. "Sounds like your lockdown gone more eventful than I woulda expected."

"Is Nega-Daiki just really hard to notice? Like, no one ever remembers him? We wouldn't even know that he exists." Peter leans forward some more, fingers darting forward to snatch one of the tarts. It's... red-flavored? Red is, after all, his favorite fruit. The mention of May prompts those serrated edges to grind, but not for long; the grinding is soon subsumed beneath a forced fuzzy-soft blanket of relief. Like Peter's *forcing* himself to remember that she's okay. "She's okay. Better," Peter says, tart-in-hand. "Much better." The curious look from Taylor prompts a faint blush. It's accompanied by more night-time rooftops, rushing winds against the face and chest -- spindly, mechanical spiders -- and a very distinct **THWP** sound.

<< -- right, telepathy -- >> << -- been shut in so long I forgot -- >> The fuzzy-warm blanket that soothed the grinding sensation in his mind spreads out, smoothing out his thoughts. It's deployed not frantically, not defensively; more like someone sheepishly drawing the curtains after noticing that a neighbor accidentally caught a peek inside. "I've been trying to... just, y'know. Venting... frustration." << -- among other things -- >> He distractedly bites into the tart. His brows instantly pinch together: "Is this some kind of fruit... pie? It's pretty frigging delicious."

"Obviously there's no such person as Nega-Daiki," Daiki quips as he picks up his tea. "The very thought is preposterous." His dark eyes glint from behind the cup as he task a small sip. "The others, though...better watch out. Pastry-pushing Daiki is a sly one." He raises his eyebrows, glancing aside at Taylor with a reflexive and slightly worried sense of questioning that doesn't resolve into an actual question. "I'm glad she's mending well. Even so, sometimes you just need to vent some frustration, there's no shame in that. How are you going about it?" His tone -- calm, neutral, mildly interested -- doesn't change when he adds, "It's a raspberry tart but...yes, basically."

"Is who? What? Who are you even talking about?" Taylor shakes his head, slurping at his coffee. "Glad to hear she's on the mend, anyway. Man, there's been a lot to vent about lately." Another of his arms is rubbing, slow, at the back of his neck. "Shiiit, you been venting on the Sentinels?" There's no chiding in his tone, just a low hum of -- amusement? It's hard to say. His brows lift, his lips twitching slightly. "I heard those things are weird-ass monsters. You gotta tell me, is it true they like, Voltron-assemble into some kind of uber-Spider because I have heard some wild shit and I don't know what's real."

Peter gobbles the fruit-pie up in... two, three bites? It's gone in an instant, leaving just lightly sugar-dusted fingertips. Instead of answering Daiki's first question -- regarding how he's going about it -- Peter reaches for another pastry. Buying more time. He doesn't know that's what he's doing, but some part of his brain does. Monch, monch, monch. "Mmf." A few crumbling flakes cling to his lips; the back of his hand rises up to wipe them away, but he stops himself at the last moment. Reaches for a neatly folded napkin on the table, instead.

By then... Taylor has filled in the gap. Peter pauses, swallows, and grunts -- non-committedly: "...I uh. I don't -- I haven't..." Very, very low, almost *shamefully*: "...haven't actually... caught one yet." The fuzzy blanket is really just Peter being polite; the psychic equivalent of putting on a shirt before you go into the pool. But glimpses of a plan to catch one -- inside a Faraday bag -- are still clearly there.

Daiki's eyebrows lift up fractionally, the jangling alarm in his mind relatively mild, even before he tamps it back down. << Alone? Goes without saying, I suppose. >> Then he blinks. "Caught one?" He takes another sip of his tea, watches Peter work on the second pastry with a distant sense of relief. "You want it for research?"

"Maybe they make good pets." Taylor sets his drink back down. He swipes a finger through some tuna that's fallen from the sandwich, licking it off a fingertip. "Or like -- a good robot butler? Guard dog? I don't know. You talked to B about this? She'd know how to go at it best, wouldn't she?" His lips quirk to one side. "What do you want it for? I don't think those shits are, like, housebroken."

The third pastry is slower. It doesn't disappear in two, or three, or even four bites; Peter takes the time to nibble, now. Still flustered, he revels briefly in the revelation that no one's telling him he shouldn't be doing this. << -- that's right. I'm an adult, now. Aren't I? I can write my own checks and everything. >> "I should..." Nostrils flare, exhaling. "Ask B about it. I don't know. I just want to catch one, get into its head, figure out how to..." Another exhale. "Figure out weaknesses? Sneak in exploits? I don't know. Police are literally sending out drones. Spider drones. This is... it's the opening to every dystopian sci-fi mini-series ever written."

Daiki finally picks up a tart for himself, but works on it very sedately, studying Peter all the while. "I agree that it would be best for you to consult B about this." His brows furrow slightly. << It cannot be uncomplicated for her, either, but... >> "She might appreciate being able to vent about them with someone, too. But I'm afraid we are well and firmly into our dystopian sci-fi whatever-this-is by now." << Can any of us even remember a time before the government started using drones to kill people? >>

A tip of one of Taylor's smallest arms flicks out towards Daiki. "Yeah, man, I don't read much of that but I kinda thought we'd been in sci-fi hellscape a long-ass while now. Doesn't mean it can't go downhill, though. Do you just want to have one or do you want to catch one because I bet I know someone who -- wait, hol' up you actually write checks? I ain't never written a damn check in my life like how do you even get a -- checkbook? Who would you write a check to?" The look he turns on Daiki is abrupt, eyes narrowed in sudden accusation. "I bet your ass has a fuckin' checkbook, don't you. You probably got a cover for it and every damn thing."

"The sequel, maybe, then. The third part of a trilogy. The one where you find out all the star-destroyers now have planet-destroying beams in them. Or something -- ridiculously dumb. Like that." A ghost of a smile weaves its way across Peter's face at Taylor's interrogation regarding checkbooks. "I mean, no -- but Aunt May does. I've had to write some, for her." << I bet he has a pen to go with it. I bet the pen and cover match. >> "I'll... talk to her, about it. I just..." Sharp edges flutter up, then back down. The knot tightens. << -- want problems I can -- break. >> "-- need to do something."

"I do have a checkbook," Daiki confirms placidly, "and I indeed do have a cover for it and every damn thing." << Every damn thing. >> It is only by rigid mental discipline that he manages to not immediately call the image of these things to mind, a feat that he feels just a bit smug about. That doesn't come through in his smile, though, which is one of solace at seeing Peter relax, even if only for a moment. "I think it's very sensible to want to do something. We would just rather you did it with some backup."

"Gold-leaf monogrammed. A fancy-ass fountain pen. Every damn thing." Taylor finishes the last couple bites of his sandwich, wiping his mouth clean with a napkin and dropping it scrunched onto his plate. His teeth flash bright and quick in a sliver of grin. "You know, when my people go out looking for trouble we roll deep. Bikes taking over the whole street. Maybe you don't need an entire gang but still, might be nice to try some time. For the novelty."

Though Daiki resists calling the image to mind, Peter's own brain is not-so-disciplined. The checkbook instantly appears; slim, black, elegant. Gold filigree. The pen comes attached. "I... yeah, that's probably --" <<-- why's everyone always gotta be so reasonable? >> "-- I'm just... not used to getting other people involved." The mention of bikes coaxes up the sound and image of rumbling motorcycle engines, which manages to nearly pull a laugh out of Peter: "These days, when I'm doing things right... no one knows I did anything at all. It might be nice to just... roll up with a posse, though." Old, thread-bare memories of younger years. Working alongside people, rather than sneaking about on his own. The twins. Ivan. Rasa.

"For business purposes, of course," Daiki adds primly, his smile undimming even if a faint wistfulness flutters through him. "Try thinking of it this way: other people are already involved, and they always will be. You can't protect those who care about you by keeping them in the dark -- not really." << If he rolled with a gang, would they temper his shenanigans or just get swept along into even more ludicrous shenanigans? >> "Even if rolling with a posse doesn't suit you, it can't hurt to have -- support personnel? Someone who knows where you are and what you're up to, someone who can check on you from time to time, someone to decompress with or patch you up after."

"I could yell at you, if you want. I've had some practice being intimidating lately, you have no idea how uppity some of these assholes get," Taylor waggles one tendril in a lazy loop outward toward the cafe floor, "if their drink takes three seconds longer than they'd like." The same arm drops to twine around his mug. A flutter of amusement licks through Daiki's mind; it carries with it a lively hint of crackle, sharp and ozone-tinged. << Boooy, you met the boss? He ain't finna do no tempering. >> The amusement blossoms outward, resolves into a low chuckle. "Shit, nah. Superheroing with a safe call. S'the way to do it, aright."