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There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it.
Dramatis Personae

Jax, Leo, Ryan, Skye

2019-09-15


"The picture my imagination just conjured will fuel so many nightmares."

Location

On a boat, motherfucker


The weather is glorious, bright and warm and mildly breezy. The harbor is filled with boats -- tiny motorboats and little sloops and larger yachts and ferries, many people deciding to enjoy the day out on the water. Somewhere far out into Jamaica Bay one small sailboat is heading nowhere in particular. There's a spread of set up on a small table near the rear -- dumplings and summer rolls and scallion pancakes, kung pao tofu and garlic eggplant and cold seaweed salad and sesame noodles. A cooler beneath has beers, cider, soda and juice and water. Ryan, at the moment, is ignoring all the food. In dark jean shorts, an asymmetrically color-blocked red and black tee, a beer in hand, he's got a bottle of something labeled "Lazy Lollygagger" in one hand and he's perched on the boat's edge, one foot resting on one of the bench seats below. "I always just think of like -- pirates or fishermen or -- I never really stopped much to think about it just being a regular job people do."

"There's actually a lot of --" Leo has a bottle of his own, its pink label declaring it Guava Gose. "Well. Regular jobs at sea. People who go into marine engineering, oceanography, marine biology. Plus all those yachts out there --" In cerulean blue polo shirt, braided brown leather belt, camel khakis, and brown leather boat shoes, he looks just about right for a day at sea. He tips the bottle out towards the more crowded harbor behind them, "they need deckhands. Rich people, they don't tend to sail their own ships." He perches on one of the bench seats along the side of the boat, eying the food but not yet touching it. "It was a good job. The kids asked much better science questions than anyone in --" He hesitates. Takes a gulp of his beer. "Well. Than anyone recently."

Skye is sitting on the gunwale near the other, one of her arms wound through the shrouds, in a cropped pink tank top, black cut-off jean shorts, and heavy black boots. She has her own drink in hand, a Strongbow rose cider. "It seems like it would be awesome, except when the weather sucks." The wind whips her hair around where it sticks out from beneath the black-and-white compass rose bandanna that's nominally keeping it in place. "Did you have to go to sailor school? Did you apprentice with someone?"

Jax is just trotting back up from the cabin, a bright smile on his face. The rest of him is bright, too; red and purple ombre hair, a black kilt interspersed with rainbow paneling in the pleats, a bright purple tee reading "Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty", glittering purple Doc Martens with silver laces, huge mirror-lensed sunglasses. "I didn't expect it to be fancy down there but it's fancy -- wait what was the coolest thing you ever found? Is it scary when the weather's bad?" He swipes a lime Jarritos soda and a slice of scallion pancake, dipping it in sauce before going to drop down on the bench near Ryan, draping an arm across the other man's knee. "Can you take apprentices?" He bounces slightly where he sits, at this thought.

"Yeah cuz definitely what you need is another job." Ryan bonks his beer bottle lightly against Jax's shoulder. "For what it's worth, though," now he's looking back to Leo, thoughtful and far more serious, "I think you'd make a very dashing pirate. You thought much about going back to this kind of thing?" He waggles his bottle in a wide expansive sweep around the boat.

Leo sits up a little bit straighter. His eyes widen at the questions -- his glance skipping from one person to the next and a small shy smile playing on his lips. "Oh -- yes. Kind of? I signed up for a -- for a volunteer crew training program on this historical -- on a tall ship. It seemed like a fun few weeks, you learn to sail and a lot of maritime history. Oh!" His smile brightens. "We found a pregnant seahorse so close to giving birth once when I had a group of first graders. It's odd teaching children, there were parents there actually mad that I explained to them that sea horses don't. That the males are the ones who gestate -- they thought it was some sort of indoctrination. And you don't want to know the comments when I was talking to middle schoolers about the priapulid worm we caught." He rubs his hand against the back of his neck, sipping at his beer once more. His cheeks flush, his eyes darting to Ryan and then away. "I don't feel dashing. And even if I wanted to teach you seriously it doesn't feel like I have a lot of --" He flicks one finger quick and restless against the neck of the bottle. "Tell me honestly. Do you think I could go back?"

Skye tilts her head as she listens to Leo's reply, nodding. "Seahorses are gay propaganda now?" Her eyebrows climb high. "Man, straight people are wack. Uh. No offense if you...swing that way." She shakes her head, hard, as she fishes a phone from her pocket and frowns at its screen. "Well, we are officially far enough out that I'm now totally helpless without the Internet's guiding light. What's a...priapulid worm?" Now she squints at Leo, considering. "I mean, I'm no expert, but you taught us enough to get us safely out here without the boat uh...going upside down, what do you call that." She snaps her fingers. "Capsizing! Oh, and here, this may help..." She tugs the bandanna off of her head and holds it out for Leo. "Instant pirate cred."

"You didn't know? We own the seahorses that's why they got so much weird style." Jax munches down his pancake, curling his arm further around Ryan's leg and then resting his chin atop it. "Parents get mad at a wide variety of plain facts they don't seem to want their kids to know. Sometimes I ain't sure why they bother sending them to school at all." He blushes after this, nose crinkling up. "Priapulid? Is that some kinda, um. Penis thing?" It's casual, really, the rippling shift of Leo's clothing. Brown knee breeches now, tucked into high boots, an open vest over loose white shirt, gold hoops in his hears, a bright parrot perched on his shoulder. Whatever amusement was starting to blossom in his expression dies stillborn, though, with Leo's question. He reaches up for Ryan's beer, takes a long pull before handing it back. "To your old life? I don't know, really. If you want to try we can sure help, but --" His teeth wiggle at his lip ring. "B told us about the drone and -- if you -- do you think there's reason they'd come after you more?"

"I definitely want to be one of those seaweed types." The flutter of Ryan's hand near his face is possibly intended to indicate some sort of frills. "Definitely sounds like a dick thing." He looks bright and amused even if Jax won't crow over his own handiwork, grinning broad and clapping Jax on the shoulder when Leo's outfit changes. "I already thought you were a badass but I trust you on this boat even more now." His grin softens but doesn't fade; he lifts one shoulder, relinquishes his beer without complaint. "I don't know shit about what those bastards might try and pull. You want to try and rebuild your life, you'll have our support."

"It's a penis worm, it looks about like what you'd expect. Well, not exactly like you'd expect, they have spines around their mouths and this eversible proboscis that -- oh. Thank you." Leo reaches for the bandanna with a very faint tinting of his cheeks. A small smile offered to Skye. He pulls it on, gesturing towards his newly bandanna'd head with a small flourish before he notices the -- entire rest of his outfit has changed to suit. His eyes shoot open wider -- he looks down at his clothes in stark amazement, brushing his hand down against the shirt. Glancing up, startled, when his fingers go through the vest. "Is this you?" He looks back at Skye, hand lifting to his bandanna in wonder. It is perhaps this amazement that leaves him too bemused to sound all that apprehensive when he answers. "I don't know what they look for. I can't imagine they want me out in the world, though, I can --" He frowns, pulls a leg to his chest. "I'd be scared of me."

Skye mouths the words 'eversible proboscis' without saying them out loud. "I'm totally googling this penis worm thing later, but the picture my imagination just conjured will fuel so many nightmares." Her smile comes bright and quick at the illusory costume change. "The bandanna is mine, the rest is all Jax." Her eyes focus past Leo at the distant horizon, then back. "There's stuff we can do to figure out how much they're watching you, going forward." She takes a long gulp of her cider. "Their fear shouldn't get to dictate your life."

"Spines around mouth is definitely something I coulda lived with never hearing in a penis-adjacent context." Behind Jax, an enormous grey and scaly wormlike creature is rearing up out of the water, writhing before its mushroom-tipped head splits open to reveal a sharptoothed lamprey mouth champing at the air over Jax's shoulder. He cocks thumb and forefinger, gunlike, tips his hand up toward the creature to send a quick arrow-shaped flutter of light through its head, the monster dissolving into a shower of teeth that fall back into the water. He picks up his soda after this, pulling a long swig. He tilts the neck of the bottle in Skye's direction, nodding agreement. "We'll help you keep an eye on things. Try an' make sure you got enough support to keep going despite --" His head shakes, and he hesitates before continuing. "Why do you," he starts, but stops, biting on his lip. "Do you think there's anything relevant we oughta know," he tries again more slowly, "about what you do or -- if you need any support around your mutation in order to get back to the kinda life you want?"

Ryan seems entirely unfazed by the sudden appearance of giant sea worm -- but then, it is behind him, too. The faint smirk that plays on his lips suggests he isn't quite oblivious to it, though. "Legit," is all he says to Leo, lifting a shoulder oddly nonchalantly given the monster dissolving over his shoulder. "Sometimes, we're fucking terrifying. But there's a lot of ways to be dangerous in the world. Potential is a long distance away from action. Doesn't make it not scary, but -- being aware of what you can do and how you choose to use it, that's already a huge step up on how a lot of dudes move through the world."

Leo has still been admiring Jax's handiwork with his outfit, a slow smile creeping across his face. "This is amazing, you -- just make -- I mean, this is gorgeous work, how do --" This cuts off with a swiftness though, when he turns his awestruck expression up towards Jax -- and promptly yelps, scrambling up, back, nearly straight over the side of the ship before he stops and grips the lip of the boat tight. Stares toward the worm, his eyes only growing wider as it is shot, breaks apart into a rain of teeth. "{Holy shit,}" comes out in Tagalog first. "That's --" He swallows, slowly eases his grip, his cheeks furiously darker. "That's... impressive." He rubs at his eyes with his knuckles, takes a long drink of his beer.

Swallows harder than necessary. His mouth twitches faintly at Jax's question, fingers tightening on the word 'mutation' as he thumps back down onto his previous seat. "I don't know what kind of life I want. I was going to go to grad school and now --" A small shrug. He half-turns, hooks his elbow over the side of the boat, stares down into the water. "I make people sick," is slower. Softer. "I never wanted to."

Even knowing Jax's powers, Skye yelps when the giant worm appears. Small objects all over the deck vibrate fore just a split second, lending a kind of ominous backdrop to the otherwise silent sea monster. She relaxes again almost immediately and giggles into her arm when Jax shoots it down. "We're not more terrifying than the thousands of nuclear warheads some people desperately want to keep aimed at other people at all times." She takes a long gult of her cider, leaning her weight a bit more heavily on the shrouds. Her eyes widen slightly at Leo's revelation. But then, leaning her head against one of the lines she's hanging onto, "You been making anyone sick since you got out?"

Jax's hand flies up to cover his mouth; somewhere between the dark glasses and the palm over half his face it's hard to quite tell whether the lift of his eyebrows is alarmed or amused. "Sorry! Sea monsters are a common danger out here though. Next time, you'll be equipped to handle it yourself." There's a shimmer, a shift; a short cutlass that appears in a scabbard at Leo's side. An old flintlock pistol holstered at Skye's hip. "Does it just -- happen?" His brows have pinched together, teeth scraping at his lower lip. "What kind of sick?"

Ryan waggles his bottle toward Skye, his quiet hum one of assent. "People are really selective about the kinds of dangers we think we need to worry about. Doesn't make it any easier to navigate around those fears, though." The curl of his smile is quick. A little wry. "And it's not a bad word, you know."

"All kinds of sick. Maybe just a cold. Maybe ebola. I don't know. A lot of sick." Leo sits back up, squeezing at the bottle in his hand. "No," his answer to Skye comes a little vehemently. "I don't want to do that, they just. They just wanted me to..." He trails off with a small frown. He smooths at his shirt, fussing at a nonexistent wrinkle. "I know, I'm just. It's hard to think of me as --" Though here he stops with another blush, a quick glance darting between the others. "Sorry. I didn't think it was a bad -- a bad word."

Skye stares, and despite the point she'd just made about relative kinds of terrifying, her shoulders tense slightly at Leo's reply. But then she nods determinedly. "Right, because like -- you're a person, who wants to live your life and teach kids about the nightmare fuel that lives under the waves. And it's not like people never do shitty things, but people aren't weapons, whatever Prometheus wanted out of you." She slowly relaxes back against the lines, sipping her cider. "You don't have to, but you all get used to it faster if you say it."

Jax's sunglasses look just as blankly staring as ever, but there's a very small twitch in his jaw when Leo answers. His teeth wiggle again at a lip ring, faster this time. "Yeah," is all he says aloud, "Skye's right. You don't gotta identify yourself as anything. You'll still have a community with us, regardless."