ArchivedLogs:Abusive Relationships

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Abusive Relationships
Dramatis Personae

B, Micah, Jax, Daiki

13 August 2014

Getting B home.


<NYC> Evolve Cafe - Lower East Side

Tuesday morning, a message is left on B's phone; Jax's thick drawl is readily identifiable. "Hey, honey-honey. I just wanted to check in with you. I know things've been crazy-rough but -- you know I'm always here for you, right? An' I /want/ t'know what's goin' on with you. An' jus' -- if you need anythin', or want anythin', I want to talk to you, alright? Wherever you're comfortable. However you're comfortable. Jus' let me know? Love you, sug'.

It's not until Wednesday that the message is returned, very very early in the morning. Or very very late Tuesday night, depending. B texts rather than calls with hir return answer:

  • (B --> Jax): ok
  • (B --> Jax): but u have 2 come
  • (B --> Jax): dont want 2 talk 2 ba alone
  • (B --> Jax): can do breakfast? or lunch?
  • (B --> Jax): @ evolve maybe
  • (B --> Jax): let me no
  • (Jax --> B): Evolve is fine. 8?
  • (B --> Jax): ewwww
  • (B --> Jax): 9

<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 plentiful 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.

In the end it's actually a little bit before nine that B arrives at the cafe; ze's in Daiki's company at a corner table in the back, though the taller teenager looks just about ready to head off to work. Messenger bag, neat crisp pale-blue tunic, white linen trousers, a large cup of tea in a to-go cup. Daiki isn't sitting, just leaning one hand against B's table as they talk in soft Vietnamese.

B's work attire doesn't look any different than hir attire any other time, tight black capris with bondage straps hanging from silver D-rings, a short-sleeved silver fishnet shirt over a blue tank, chunky spiked wristcuffs and a silver wire choker. Ze already has sort of a /lot/ of food in front of hir, a pile of ham and a pile of eggs that ze is busily mashing up to smoosh together. There's a large cup of chai steaming at hir elbow and hir tablet beside hir is opened to MS Paint Adventures, though at the moment ze is more focused on breakfastfoods than webcomics.

Micah also looks ready for work when he steps inside just enough to hold the door open for Jax. Or at least his /clothes/ do, the standard TARDIS-blue polo and khakis, serviceable work shoes, hair still neatly combed this early in the morning. The rest of him looks a bit haggard and certainly lacking for sleep. He moves in a few steps and to one side of the door, but doesn't proceed any farther, reaching for Jax's hand instead and speaking in a lowered voice. "Jax, honey... I'll definitely stay here so y'feel safe bein' out. But. Could y'make sure that B wants me over there 'fore I come along? If not, I can just grab another table. I want hir t'feel like ze can An' I don't wanna be in the way."

Jax looks colourful once more as he slips into Evolve, purple skinny jeans and black tank top swirled with peacocky blue and green, blue shimmering on his eye and lips and nails as well. His nails drum against his FreakAngels messenger bag, his other hand squeezing Micah's briefly. "Mmhm. You want to grab some food for us meanwhile? I'm gonna die without some calories an' caffeine." He doesn't actually specify what it is he /wants/, leaving decisions on feeding him in Micah's hands.

A small peck on the cheek and then he is slipping across the room towards B, sliding his bag off his shoulder and onto the floor. "Hey, sugar." His arm extends in offer of hug, to Daiki and then to B. "S'it gonna be aright if Micah joins us? We jus' want for you t'be comfortable, however that's gonna be."

Daiki accepts the hug, brief as his affections tend to be. "Should I stay or --?" His question, eyebrows lifted, is directed to B.

B shakes hir head, sliding out of hir seat to return Jax's hug tighter, longer, cheek mooshing up against Jax's stomach. "I'm okay," ze assures Daiki. "And yeah, Ba can. Ba should. Come. That would be good."

Daiki nods, squeezing B lightly on the shoulder and then taking his tea to move off towards the front of the room. He greets Micah before he leaves, a small bow of his head, a very small smile. "Micah-san. Good morning. B says that should join them."

There is an attempt at a smile at the kiss, aborted at the stage of a slight twitch of Micah's lips. "Of course. I'll see what they got for you." His hand lingers on Jax's back, then hangs in the air a moment after the other man leaves. Dai interrupts the beginnings of a trudge toward the counter. "Mornin', sugar. Thank you. Have fun at work." Nope, the attempt at a return smile doesn't make it through, either. He reaches out to pat the teen's shoulder as he passes, instead, continuing to the counter to place an order for Jax, pay, and await its delivery before approaching the table. This may conveniently give the others a chance to settle in, as well.

Jax squeezes B tighter, head tipping down to press a kiss to the top of the pup's spiky head. "'kay. But if you /do/ get uncomfortable just." His head shakes, and rather than elaborate on this point he just rests his cheek against the top of B's hair. "I love you. We both love you. I jus' hope you know that."

"And you." Daiki's hand lifts, fingertips brushing against Micah's knuckles at the shoulder-pat. He takes a sip of his tea and ducks hastily out of the coffeeshop to head towards the subway.

B doesn't pull away for a while, nuzzling in against Jax's stomach. Hir gills open slowly, close slowly, and eventually ze finally reluctantly disengages, settling back into hir chair. "I know. I just don't think I'm very good at it."

Eventually Micah ends up with a laden tray, a large, cheerfully steaming almond milked mocha standing watch over a plate housing a ridiculously large and melty cinnamon roll, a bowl of fruit salad with coconut whipped cream, a third small plate of seasoned tempeh strips, a pile of napkins, and a set of flatware. He approaches the table slowly, placing the food out in front of Jax before setting the tray aside. There's another sort-of smile sent cautiously in B's direction. "Mornin', sugar." Quietly, he slides into the empty chair beside Jax.

"/Good/ at -- what --" At first Jax just looks baffled, brows slightly knitted as he looks at B. "Oh wow, sugar, there ain't -- ain't nothin' to be /good/ at you. We jus' love you. You don't gotta -- /do/ nothin' for. For that."

His baffled expression shifts smoothly into a bright smile and he bounces slightly in his seat at the sight of the food, reaching out with thumb and forefinger to pluck a strawberry out of the fruit salad. "Ohgosh," his voice is a tinymoan at the fruit, "you're an angel." He tucks one foot up beneath himself, licking cream off his fingertips.

B blushes, poking a claw into hir food to spear a piece of ham on one claw tip. "I always feel like I'm messing it up, though. Like I don't know like. Being a /family/ just comes /easier/ to other people than -- I'm just. Not good at." Ze shrugs, tearing the bit of ham off her nail to chew it hungrily. Hir gills flutter quickly when Micah arrives, black eyes lifting. "Hi, Ba."

Micah winces at the increase in gill fluttering set off by his presence. He tries not to, but it's there. "Honey, I just wanted...t'say that I love you. An' {I'm sorry} for anythin' I did t'hurt you, I just. Please. Always tell me if I'm doin' anythin' that... I don't never /want/ that. I'll do whatever needs doin' t'fix it." The apology comes in what passes for Vietnamese for Micah, halting but desperately sincere. He chokes off any number of reassurances, explanations, and questions that vie for being voiced. "I'll. Stop talkin' now unless y'want me to. Just let us know what y'need."

B's answer draws a crooked smile from Jax, a soft huff of laughter. "Oh -- oh, gosh, sweetie. D'you think this comes easy t'any of us? Lovin' folks is a lotta things but it ain't always easy. I feel like I been doin' nothin' but flounderin' an' screwin' up since the day y'all come into my life. I want so -- so badly to do /right/ by you, see you happy an' -- an' sometimes I don't even got the slightest idea where t'/begin/."

B's eyes widen slightly, shifting between both hir fathers. It's Jax ze speaks to first, teeth pressing against hir lower lip. "... but you. Always did it so /good/ before, I just. Thought... that I." Ze shakes hir head, curling fingers around hir chai to lift it for a sip. When ze puts the mug back down hir eyes settle on Micah. "What are you sorry /for/, though?"

It's a direct question, so that unstops Micah's mouth, despite his professing to be quiet. "You didn't feel safe. Or at home. An' that's my /job/. I'm sorry for not doin' it the way I was s'posed to." Again with the shaky Vietnamese. "I didn't even know. That you'd told Lucien that y'didn't want Neve there. If I'd known, I wouldn't've said I was okay with it t'begin with. But. I should've. I should be better able t'anticipate your needs, but I... Get stuck. Wantin' so bad for people to get along that I guess I don't see what I should?" His teeth dig into his lower lip, colour seeping into his cheeks even as it blanches from his lips, as if draining from one location to the other. "I want you t'feel like y'can talk t'me. An'...y'haven't been. So I must not be makin' y'feel like y'can."

"Sweetie, you definitely ain't -- it ain't you. Relationships is hard territory to navigate for most people, don't matter what sort. You try to love people s'best you can an' that's all y'can do." Jax worries at his lip, too, and then at a lip ring, glancing sidewise over to Micah. His brows knit a little uncertainly, and he pauses while the other man speaks to pluck off a bit of his roll and pop it into his mouth. "It is hard, though. We try s'best we /can/ t'do right by you but -- we need your help. T'know what it /is/ y'need."

B pushes hir eggs around on hir plate, actually with hir spoon instead of fingers, this time. "Ba," hir eyes are fixed down on hir plate, hir gills fluttering rapidly enough to leave hir voice hitched where otherwise it would be level, "she tried to feed me bits they tore out of Matt to make me human. Did you really think I could possibly want her there?"

"I didn't think you /would/ want her there, but there's a Between 'not want' an' 'can't tolerate'. An'. Y'were further t'ward 'can't tolerate' than I gave allowance for. I thought when Luci said he'd asked everyone an' they were okay that meant...everybody said okay." Micah's shoulders slump a little. "It was prob'ly just that's what I /wanted/ 'im t'mean. I was under some false impressions when she moved in, too. That took...Matt had t'tell me what really happened. I thought she had total amnesia of her life before an' that made it made it so /understandable/. If she just didn't know what she was doin' an' bought that story they passed off like it was the whole truth. An', yes, quite prob'ly she was bein' misleadin' with me. I took her t'task for that once I realised. But I was also pretty easily led, so that's my fault, too." His hands grip at the edge of the table for utter lack of anything else to /do/ with themselves. "It's not an excuse. It's not. That's just...where m'head was for so long. An' I know better'n anybody I've got a horrible blind spot when it comes t'people. 'Specially people I love. I get focused in on all this /light/ that's in a person an' it makes it so hard t'see the other things."

"I think right now the most important thing for us is knowin' what -- what's gonna make /you/ comfortable, movin' on from here? Because givin' you a home y'feel safe an' happy in is pretty much the biggest priority in my life." Jax is a little fidgety in his seat, though the fidgeting calms as he reaches out to brush fingertips down B's gills in gentle petting. "An' more'n anything I want t'know how t'help you. T'have that."

B closes hir eyes, one set of lids and then the other; even when ze opens them again the clear inner pair shift open and closed rapidly. Hir gills slowly press flat, head tilting slightly to crane them into the touch. "It's pretty bad." This sounds a little uncomfortable, like the words are difficult for hir to say. "I mean, your. Thing. With people. Sometimes I'm just /really/ glad you ended up with Pa because it seems like you could. Really easily end up in horrible situations with abusive people and you'd just /keep/ forgiving them no matter what. And I -- that's /terrible/, you know? It's like no matter /what/ people do to you or anyone around you, you. Just /take/ it and make excuses for them and -- comfort /them/ like it's the abusers who need the most love. And I just, I can't really. That's not a place where I want to. I can't." Even /with/ hir gills pressed flat, now, hir voice cracks again.

"It's. Happened before. Once," is all Micah manages to say for some time, voice softer. He shakes his head, turning back to the more present issue at hand. "I've told y'before that I wouldn't anythin' t'make /your home/ feel less like your safe space. How important it is for you all t'have that. Since y'get t'have so little of it. If y'feel /I'm/ not safe? a person. Like that's somethin' that can't be fixed? You're not the one that should be goin' anywhere. I am. /You/ should get t'be home." His fingers claw a little tighter at the table, his eyes moving to scour a spot on the ceiling to keep the moisture in them from spilling over. "I meant it when I said y'need t'tell me what y'need. 'Cause I will do it. If y'need me not t'be around for awhile I can...minimise that as much as is feasible. There's things that still need...that hafta be done, but I can stick just t'the house an' I can go, it'd... I'd figure out a way t'make it work."

Jax's teeth press harder at his lip, and he slides his hand over, curling overly-warm fingers tight around Micah's hand. "I don't know if it changes nothin'," he adds uncertainly, "but with the Neve situation, 'leastways, Lucien's gonna be workin' with her tomorrow. On gettin' her head back in order. So we can see after that if -- if anythin' changes with how she. Interacts with people." He swallows, his other hand resting for a moment on B's shoulder before returning to petting at hir gills. "But if it's /Micah/ that's makin' you the most. The least comfortable then I just. Don't know how's the best. Way to fix that." His tone is largely level though his words come out somewhat /choppily/ in evidence of how difficult it is to /keep/ them even.

"-- Oh." B's eyes widen further, hir voice dropped soft as well. "It -- has?" Maybe this is not the Most Sensitive thing to be pressing but! Hir hand twitches, almost reaching for Micah's as well but then moving back to hir spoon. "It's not. That you're not /safe/ it's just that you're not." This is followed by a looooong hesitation, a very /determined/ stare down at hir plate. "... smart," follows so small as to be only just-barely audible. Much clearer is: "-- But I don't want you /gone/. I just want you to /stop/. Doing -- this. Putting /everybody else/ ahead of -- no matter what –"

Micah simply nods the admission, lacking words to elucidate either way just now. His gaze remains locked on the ceiling, not out of any desire to avoid looking at people but out of sheer...keeping his /eyeballs/ still to avoid starting tears that will only be harder to stop than to prevent coming in the first place. "I love you. your pa said, you kids are the top priority for... I don't know what t'do 'bout... I can't just /instantly/ stop trustin' people an'..." His teeth grab and crush his lower lip; it looks like it /should/ be painful but he doesn't react to that. "It feels like. You're askin' me t'change m'whole world view an' relationships just t'/people/ in general. An' that's. I guess that's fair. An' I'd /try/. But that ain't somethin' that changes in a short term way. So what I need t'know meanwhile, I guess, is what'll get you home. Not just present but /home/."

Jax's hand squeezes a little bit tighter, relaxing slowly before the squeeze gets actually /painful/. "... also kinda want t'make sure you're gonna be safe in the meanwhile. If you /do/ stay away for a bit. Cuz even if you ain't at the /Commons/ I want y'to be -- to be safe wherever you /are/, you know? I worry 'bout you kinda a lot."

"I'm safe where I am," B assures Jax with a very small upward tug of lips that doesn't quite manage a full smile. It's brief, brows just crumpling inwards after. "I don't know. I don't -- maybe I /am/ asking you to change a lot. I don't -- /mean/ to I just. It's not. Do you have /any/ idea what. What life has been /like/ for us? Our parents locked us in dog crates and then gave us away to Prometheus. /They/ went from treating us pretty okay to -- to just /torture/. And then we got out and since then it's been. Been getting spit at in the streets and harassed and /attacked/ and locked in cages /again/ and crazy cultists attacking and --"

Hir hands spread in front of hir, hir eyes wide. "And you expect /me/ to forgive her. To just /assume/ there's good in everyone and be kind and gentle and give everyone second chances and, Ba, you're /already/ asking me to change my whole. World view. And relationships to people in general. Because We've spent our /entire life/ having people tell us we're less than and worthless and a monster and /hurting/ us for it and you guys are the only good thing we've ever /had/. And if /I/ started acting like you do, trusting /everyone/ and giving /everyone/ second chances no matter how bad they hurt me, I'd be /dead/. Do you get that? That's not a -- a metaphor, I'd /actually/ be /dead/. Because a whole lot of the world wants to kill us and you just keep expecting me to have /faith/ that if you hug them hard enough maybe they'll change their minds."

By the end of this hir gills are fluttering fast again, hir cheeks flushed and eyelids still blinking. Ze picks up hir chai, exhaling shakily down into it. "... I need you to understand that. And take it /seriously/. Because otherwise you're going to get one of us killed some day."

"I asked Lucien. When I thought it was just Neve that made you leave. If he'd be okay with you stayin' with him. 'Least 'til he had a chance t'work on her. He said yes. So, you have that option. /If/ what's keepin' you away is Neve, too. 'Cause it's just not feasible t'kick her out entirely right now an' that's not /my/ decision, either way. Ain't how people voted at the meetin'." Micah shakes his head again. "I /don't/ expect you t'forgive her. Certainly not /now/. It'd be...nice if she reforms an' remembers herself an' realises what she did wrong an' works to make amends where they can be made an' can start actin' like a /person/ again, if she could have a chance t'be part of society again. But she has t'/do/ that work, first, b'fore she'd've earned forgiveness from anybody. My worry was just that...if she didn't have any friends, anybody helpin' her. That that would never get the chance t'happen. That she'd just get killed an'...she /has/ been through all of this torture just like everyone else so I couldn't justify /sendin'/ her t'get killed. 'Specially when her head is...what it is right now. An' it weren't fair t'expect any of you she wronged more...personally, more directly t'give 'er the time of day. So I...was fillin' that hole. Just. In hope. I don't /expect/ other people t'do what I do at all. Certainly not."

Micah finally works his eye situation out enough to look down at his hands, instead. "An' there are people that /I/ don't forgive, either. There's lines that get crossed. I guess mine're just. Further out that most." At last, he manages to look up at B. "Does at all? I /don't/ expect you t'do that. I'm not askin' you t'/make/ yourself unsafe. But if you feel thinkin' the way I do right now makes you unsafe right now an' /that/ is what's keepin' you away from home, then /I/ am the problem. An' that part needs t'be worked out in a /now/ kind of way so y'can get home."

Jax lets go of Micah's hand now so that he can scoot closer, reach both hands to press down gently at B's gills. "I'm -- glad, honey-honey, that you. That you're speakin' open with us about this now. It's /important/ t'us t'know how you're really feelin', even if that's mad or upset at us or anythin'. I jus' -- want to know what we can /do/ that's concrete. Somethin' /solid/ that'll make you more comfortable."

B bows hir head, breathing more steadily at the touch of hands. "... I don't think there's. A /whole/ lot of difference, Ba. At least when it comes to /safety/? Between asking me to trust someone and just trusting them /yourself/. We share a home. We share a /life/. And your judgment about who to share it /with/ --" Ze swallows hard. "I don't know," ze admits, shakily, hir own eyes bright now too. "I don't /want/ to ask you not to be you. Not to -- /love/ people. But it's not /possible/ for us to not be affected by who /you/ -- you're my /dad/. How do you think I'd feel if someone hurt /you/? And that's not. Even getting into how easy it could be to --" Ze's /trying/ to keep hir gaze from straying down to Micah's leg but it dips just for a moment, anyway. "... try and use you to get to." Though here ze's looking at /Jax/ more than anything.

With an effort ze takes another deep breath, though it doesn't do /much/ to calm hir voice. "I'm okay," ze reiterates. "For now. Where I am. It's --" This time hir lips /do/ make it into a smile, brief. "Safe there."

"B, honey, I'm just tryin' t'pin down if you aren't comin' home 'cause of me. Or 'cause of Neve /and/ me. 'Cause if it's /just/ me? You can come home. Please, y'don't have to stay away." Micah chews on his lip again. "If me promisin' t'try an' be careful an' on this. Ain't enough for now. An' we can't come up with anythin' I can /do/ that'll be enough for now. I /will/ go. I still mean it when I say you're the top priority, honey. An' if that's what's needed t'get you home, that's what's needed. Please, just...tell me what needs t'be done."

Jax stays quiet, here, hands just pressed gentle and reassuring against B's gills. His thumbs brush slowly down against them, his breathing kind of slow and deep as his eye flicks between B and Micah.

B's tears spill over with hir next blink, eyes fixing down on hir plate. Ze pushes hir spoon around in hir eggs without picking any up. "I don't /like/ her there," ze finally answers, a little bit thick-choked, "but it's what she /represents/ with you that. That I. That I can't." Ze turns hir head, wiping hir cheek against one shoulder. "... /how/ are you going to work on it?"

"Just...actively bein' more aware might help some," Micah offers to his /slightly/ less death grippy hands on the edge of the table. "And I already have a standin' weekly appointment with a psychologist at the Clinic. So. This is apparently a big enough deal that it could maybe be a priority for that...treatment. T'deal with." Hazel eyes slide up again to regard B. "Is there somethin' else you'd recommend?"

B draws in another shaky breath. "OK. Therapy. OK." Hir /other/ cheek now rubs against the opposite shoulder. "No, that's. That's good. That's a good. OK." Ze fidgets slightly uncomfortably. "But I think I'm still going to. Wait. Till after Lucien's. Fixed whatever they --" Hir fingers wiggle towards hir head.

“No, I get that. I had kinda expected you'd wanna stay away 'til Friday, prob'ly. S'why I checked with Luci 'bout you stayin' there. But. After that. You'll come back?” Micah's eyebrows lift, tone lifting hopefully.

B lowers hir head, cheek rubbing now against Jax's hand where it presses to hir gills. "After that," ze agrees, slow and very quiet. "OK."

"An' just...please let me know if I do somethin' wrong or upsettin' or worryin' or /anythin'/. It helps me t'...know. What's goin' on." Micah resists the temptation to reach across the table. "An' if you need space from me, or /want/ t'talk t'me, all y'gotta do is ask."

Jax turns a hand up, fingers cupping against B's cheek. "You feelin' okay about this? S'there anything else helpful we can do right now?"

B closes hir eyes, mooshing hir face down into Jax's hand. "Maybe a hug."

Micah watches the nuzzling and petting hand. “A hug...just from Jax or...?”

Jax responds to this readily, his hand sliding down to curl around B's shoulders in a tight far-too-warm squeeze. "{Love you,}" he whispers in rather stilted Vietnamese.

B's nuzzling shifts from hand to shoulder when Jax moves, hir skin clammy-cool against Jax's overly-warm. Ze answers Micah only by holding hir other arm out, hand hook-hook-hooking like ze could pull him in. Not that hir arms are nearly long enough for that.

Not to worry, Micah will come to hir. He stands and walks around to the other side of the table, wrapping an arm around B when indicated. "Love you, sugar. Please. Just. Don't let things get /bad/ an' be quiet 'bout 'em, okay? Let us know. 'Cause we do love you."

B's gills flutter once, and then lie still. "{I love you, too.}" Hir Vietnamese is not at all stilted. "I should. Probably get to work." Though ze isn't really /moving/ away from hugs.