ArchivedLogs:Blips on the Radar

From X-Men: rEvolution
Blips on the Radar
Dramatis Personae

Jackson, Nox, Parley




<NYC> 303 {Holland} - Village Lofts - East Village

This apartment is cheerful, in its way -- bright and airy, its floor plan open and a plethora of windows providing it with an abundance of light. The tiny entrance hall opens into a living room, small, though its sparse furniture and lack of clutter give it a more open feel. The decor is subdued and minimalist; black and white is the dominant theme, with occasional splashes of deep crimson to offset the monochrome, though of late bright coloured sealife has made its way into being painted on the wall. The couch and armchair are upholstered in black corduroy, the low wide coffee table central is black wood and glass-topped, and a few large pillowy beanbags provide additional seating by the large windows that dominate the back wall. Towards the back, a couple of doors lead off into bedrooms and bathroom, and to the right, the kitchen's tile is separated from the living room's dark hardwood floors by black countertops. Above the bedroom to one side, there is higher space; a ladder climbs up to a lofted area looking down on the living room. Standing in front of the partition between living and cooking area is a large fish tank: one lone Betta, blood-red, swims regally among several species of black and silver fish. A hallway beyond the kitchen leads further into the apartment. Another bathroom stands just into the hall and the farthest door leads to the apartment's final bedroom, the door usually kept shut to hold in the acrid fumes of turpentine and paints from within.

The Holland residence is rarely empty these days, full of milling faces, new and old. The couch at the moment is swamped beneath another pile of clothing donations, which two refugees, two young men, one snow white and hairless, the other brunette and perfectly human looking outside of the scar puckering his left cheek, are sorting through by size. A younger girl mills for a moment out of the bathroom in just a towel, pads on her toes briskly over to the pile, grabs a shirt and some panties and then trots back to the bathroom again, shedding water droplets.

Parley stands in the kitchen with a knife and some apples, slicing them for a fruit salad. Already amassed in a bowl are melon scoops and blueberries and sliced dimes of banana. His knife is paused, however. As is the brunette's folding, head slightly turned towards the kitchen. There's a slight psionic /tang/ in the air, metallic and energized.

Jackson's own presence in his apartment has been somewhat more erratic than some of the faces who have (albeit temporarily) moved in. Between jobs and school he has been flitting in and out at intervals, returning with supplies, returning to /cook/ (the house has, at least, been /well/ stocked in richly home-cooked meals), returning with suggestions of contacts; a potential job opening for this person here, a referral to a physical therapist for that person there, a referral to an emotional therapist for this other, paperwork to fill out for health insurance, paperwork for getting a GED or getting back to college. There is a lot to be done and everyone's needs are different; still, for all the hectic, when Jax slips back into the apartment today it is with a smile. It is usually with a smile. He's colourfully dressed, as usual, a silvery skirt worn over leggings with SPACE imagery on them; a black tank top beneath a purple fishnet shirt, large sunglasses on his face. He's stopping by the door to shed his shoes and jacket, brows creasing just slightly as he looks over the apartment. He has a bulky black messenger bag at his hip, and he's slipping a folder out of it, drifting across the room to hand it off to a young man sitting in a beanbag chair before he heads towards the kitchen, presumably to slot himself into the ongoing foodprep. "Everything aright?"

When Jackson enters, the white-skilled boy - maybe 'boy' isn't fair, he's not much younger than Jackson - looks up and grin at him. The brunette turns back to folding, tossing a stray ball of socks into a milk crate that someone has labeled 'DaSoxBox' in paint marker. Or many someones, the paintmarkers sitting nearby have invited a lot of graffiti and stars and rainbows and names and messages and stick figures. In the kitchen, Parley lets out a slow breath, closes his eyes - and then turns them towards Jackson with a narrow smile, "Mh. Just talking about old times. - ah." /Slotting/ Jax is slotted, though Parley protests (smile, conversely, slightly more relaxed), "You don't have to help with everything. I don't think I've seen you sit down." He's wearing neutral-casual clothes, a buttoned up cream and gray plaid shirt over a white t-shirt, second hand jeans, bare feet. His presence around the apartment has been about as erratic as Jackson's, drifting in at times to provide a rotation of help around the apartments with the more high-functioning refugees, to lend some clarity his own knowledge or abilities could shed. Aside from inquiring once, three or four days since the escape, where he could access a fax machine, he's been in the low-maintenance branch of moochers. He hands Jackson an apple - an /already cut wedge/ - insistently. EAT IT, KITTY. "Let us do something nice for you, for once."

"You had much experience with Southerners?" Jackson answers, tone lightly amused. There's a weary undercurrent to him that doesn't show through /visibly/, not in his answering warm smile to the young man in the living room, not in his easy-confident movements. It's less unrested, though, and more just harried, mind a million places in addition to /here/. "The day I get driven out my own kitchen is the day you /all/ get driven outta here. 'sides, might could be you just ain't lookin', I sit down plenty." This much is at least true in fact if not in /spirit/. Class and work both require a good deal of sitting. "Old times," is an echo that comes with a slight crooked twist of his smile, head turning so that his gaze can shift between Parley and the others. He /does/ at least accept the apple, plucking it between two fingers and making it disappear in a hurry, right before he washes his hands conscientiously prior to food-handling. "'chu been up to?"

"Old times," confirmed. The undercurrent weariness off the other man washes under Parley's observation bridge, noted thoughtfully, his senses unrolling habitually around Jackson like a tarp to catch whatever surface sentiments, emotions and other thought fragments/memories might topple down from those million little directions his mind is being tugged. But while noticed-- how do you ARGUE with that? He huffs through his nose and makes room for Jackson at the work table, chiding down at the table, "You know what I mean." Sitting down to work does not count as sitting! If Parley looks tired, it's hard to tell the difference between it and the papery-pale color a lot of the longer-term prisoners have gained from long stints out of the sun, "Staying busy." He glances at Jax from the corner of his eye -- peek! -- and then back down again, " Mr. Black alright?" The gossip mill is STRONG in a tight community. Especially a tight community people'd with individual sharing various psionic abilities.

"Sure, but slowin' down drives me batty." Jax picks up a larger knife, starting to go to work on a cantaloupe. He slices it in half to clean out the seeds. He might well be watching Parley /back/, it's hard to tell behind his sunglasses. His thoughts are all over; when to pick up Spencer from a playdate at a friend's house, making time to take /his/ kids out to dinner -- tomorrow? maybe is there time tomorrow? -- alone, apart from the hectic rush of RefugeeCamp, getting in touch with Micah to get /him/ in touch with Liza's doctor, checking in on Reese upstairs about a potential job for the former-teacher-turned-refugee, talking to the refugees of high school age about enrolling at Xaviers. And on. And on. "Ryan," he corrects with a small amused curl of smile, "s'doing," << Lucien >> "alright, he'll be back on his feet in no time." The gossip mill /is/ strong. Going from boarding school to VIGILANTE TERRORIST Jackson has probably long since started thinking of this lack of privacy as second nature. "Busy's good, maybe. Busy with what?"

Mmm. There's a certain anonymous familiarity to human concern. Parley marinates in the wash of smallworries and plannings trickling off the back of Jackson's mind, eyes lowered to the apples he's cutting and gradually eases his rhythms from resisting Jackson's help to cooperating with it. The slices he finishes, he pushes over on the cut board for the other man to put in the dish. They are prepping for an Epic Fruit Salad. Jackson is working on /melons/. The flash-reference to Liza, however -- << (thmp). >> It's more a sensation than any word, of him leaning against the memory of her with a small clench of something too /willful/ to be called 'concern'. A silent bid to << (fight!/goodluck!) >> that fades like smoke just as soon as it comes.

There are other people around the house; someone can be heard in the shower, a few are hanging around the living room reading. The couch is also occupied by two young men - one hairless and stark-white, the other brunette with a scar - who are sorting through a pile of donated clothes. The longer Jackson and Parley talk, however, the further the brunette frowns. And now, he gets up, leaving the last of the clothes, and walks down the hall to the boys' room with his hands in fists.

Parley's eyes follow him from beneath his lashes, then lowers them back to his work, "Busy with. Well." He glances around again, licking his lips, and sets the knife down. He steps back deeper into the kitchen, making a little hand-gesture for Jackson to creep /with/ him. Like he has a /secret/.

Jackson's head lifts from his cantaloupe-slicing, following the young man's exit with a compression of lips, a flicker of worry, a mental note to check in after food preparation is through. The expression eases back into his default-cheery smile as he turns back to his work, but Parley's movement draws his attention upwards again. He follows along with half a cantaloupe still in hand. Juice trickling over his fingers from the recent cuts in the fruit, bleeding deliciousness onto him. "Busy with what?" he asks again, and this time there's a deeper note of thoughtfulness to the question.

A certain bloodmonster might be dead but news of his fate hasn't exactly spread like wildfire yet--the cops have a /lot/ to untangle and the bizarro mutant angle is not exactly helping things along. This means that Nox continues to require a low profile while out. This leads to some necessary sneakiness in order to visit anyone and as she had promised Parley she would be by Jackson's, she /means/ to visit Jackson's. It's just taken...several days, a new hobo outfit and a deserted alleyway so she can leave that disguise behind to go full-shadow. An opened window on a lower floor creates an opportunity for said shadow to slither through a living room--her pace picks up so she can escape the blare of Judge Judy reruns quickly--and then through the hallway and then up the elevator shaft and finally to Jax's front door.

The knock that follows is whisper-soft and rapid. Timing! After, Nox hauls herself up off of the floor in order to present a dark outline for anyone peepin' through the hole but she does not fully materialize.

Whups, doorbell. Well, knocking. Parley's eyes drift vacant for a moment -- likely, even that small knock inflicts Nox with the psionic scans of a good half dozen minds at once. If there's one thing stronger than the gossip mill amongst the refugees it's the /paranoia/. An evasive-hazy mind like Nox's is a rare dark gem, earning a blink of recognition before Parley, rather than answer, wordlessly slips around Jax with a light touch to his hip to not jostle him and just WANDERS OFF. Well no, he heads to the door to creep it open, wrapping fingers around it, one above and one below his face to peer outward with curious eyes.

"Parley --" Jackson's voice is gentle as Parley slips away, his smile in place, but his thoughts have a stronger twinge of annoyance to them. Frustration. /Irritation/. It's like herding cats. He sidesteps away from touch, glancing to the door with the same reflexive caution as everyone else there. He's back to slicing, though, chopping his cantaloupe with deft-quick motions.

Nox is accustomed to being scanned. She is not accustomed to so /many/ scans. She briefly blips off of the radar by going full shadow only to force herself back to the mortal plane a moment later. Stubbornly, though with some discomfort--physical pain has a way of claiming the thoughts when it's present and the woman /hurts all over/. She is thinking << Gentle, gentle, friends, I am a friend, I am only a friend, I am one of you >> though how much of that gets through is debatable and will vary according to ability. When the door opens and she is peeped at, she projects the sense of smiling. "Hello, Parley," Nox murmurs, "I am here as promised. Is Mister Holland in?"

Parley doesn't wince at the irritation felt from Jackson, though he does glance over his shoulder once then more pressingly to the woman at the door. A nod confirms Mister Holland is home, and his statement simple and concerned, "You're hurt." There's a great offhand familiarity in which he offers out hands, to take hold of hers, or support her elbow, that has nothing knee-jerk or fussing to it. There's interest mounting amongst the residents of the apartment, curiosity or wariness or both. Many refugees peer to Jackson uncertainly.

The voice at the door draws Jackson out of the kitchen. He has a /quarter/ of a cantaloupe, now. "Nox," he says, smile warm but mild surprise in his thoughts. Irritation is quickly chased away -- in Jax it rarely lingers /long/ -- and he leans against the wall between kitchen and living room. "S'aright, everyone, she's a friend. Y'ok, Nox? Last night I heard --" His teeth sink down against his lip, a rapid flit of thoughts skimming across the already cluttered surface of his mind; Lucien calling, collecting Joshua and Liam, slipping down into the dark of the sewers. Ryan being attacked by the bloodmonster in the subway. "Lucien called me last night. Is everyone okay?"

"It will heal." Nox is mildly surprised, herself, to be on the receiving end of helping hands. She'd been on the verge of fading out again but, desiring to avoid being rude, she maintains some solidity so that Parley can assist her into the home via guiding palm (pads?) to elbow. The nap of her thoughts is fuzzed, brushed this way and that--the pain, uncertainty, pleasure at seeing Jax, concern at seeing the refugees, worry for friends not present--but it is all too quickly overlaid with the formality of greetings. "Hello," she says to those staring and, "Hello," again with a smile. Jax's greeting sets off a brief flare of /something/ at the mention of Lucien but it's slippery as oil beneath a jumble of painstressfearangerprotectiveness-memories, and soon she's smiling at their host as well. "All is well," she confirms, "Tatterhood dispatched the man and those taken were returned to their homes and families."

The swelter of glimpses, spare and few and /stark/ for it when they come, are run through Parley's mental fingers as he aids Nox to a chair. He then sort of... hovers by her for a moment, arms crossed somewhat tightly to his chest, "Does that mean you'll be cleared? -- is Ms. Tatterhood alright?" And, for lack of there being adequate words beyond 'is she a blobby thing of HEALING', he transmits << (is she?) >> with an abbreviated memory of a shifting-morphing-melting shape in the dark, blood-stained back of a moving van.

"Does that mean --" Jackson is starting to say, before Parley asks the same question that is skittering at the top of his chaotic thoughts. The light in the room is fading already, dimming in the living room though around Jackson it brightens. Temporarily. And then fades away again. "M'glad to hear it," he says instead, soft and warm. Chopchopchop. He scrapes the sliced apples and sliced cantaloupe off into the bowl. << Busy with what? >> This is thought very distinctly, for Parley, more clearly /speech/ than most of his surface thoughts, which tend towards the visual. "Luci said you saved his sister. She called. While we were --" He shrugs. A flash of sewers. "Lookin'."

"I think there are few things that could truly harm her." Harm, rather than "hurt", which is a fleeting concept to Nox in any case. The veils of her mind draw back long enough to share the image of Tatters, bloody but triumphant, posed with her spear beside the bloodlake that was once a Carnage: << (sheisKnightfriendblobfrogGollumyoungfiercesweetleaderproudsoproudofher) >> And then it's all gone when the movement required for sitting causes a twinge and the woman blips out, just gloom in the chair marking her continued presence. Bodies, /so/ inconvenient. "Perhaps they will loudly proclaim my innocence. Perhaps not. You..." She is probably looking at Jackson now, and there's a hint of worried frown to her murmuring. "She was already free, I only returned her to the surface. Are you," in plural, "all right? Did you go below?"

"Can I get you anything?" Parley asks at Nox's elbow; what /does/ a shadow eat or do to heal? << --? >> he fluttertaps this on Jackson's mind, through a wave of dark imagery, screaming and crimson fangs; the sharp, searing hot tug at his shoulder where his executioner's bullet had missed its mark - it's not so easily forgotten that he'd been next on the plate to be served up before the rescue squad had blown in the door. Which somehow translates to a mishmash of << (FROWN!)(later/not important)(pleasedon'tdie)(-you're okay?) >> With Nox putting word to the next question /he/ would otherwise be asking, he also looks to Jackson for the answer.

<< Important, >> Jackson answers Parley, quietly firm. << What's up? >> His head shakes with a slight flop of purple hair. "I'm fine," he assures, light and cheerful, and though there's skittering images in his mind of the bloody monster full of mouths and knives and tentacles this is from the subway, from Ryan; of the sewers there is just dark-dank but no injury. "We're all fine. We gone under but Desi called to say it was all over. Luci's the most fine, he was worryin' himself sick 'bout his sister, you did him a right solid getting her home safe." His brows pull together in a frown, though. "I hope they -- they'd better -- ain't right if they just leave it like you're still wanted."

The darker it grows, the easier it is for Nox to take on slightly more visibility. Enough now that Parley would see the hand that lifts, ghostlike, to brush his arm in thanks and reassurance. "I am fine. A day, perhaps two, and I will be healed of this. It was not light." Light, the light, horrible, horrible light lancing through, stabbing and sweeping, making her dance and no, smile, the boy is sensitive to these things. She's smiling, smiling with head and heart. Lucien, though not present, helps. "It was good fortune I found her. She is a very brave girl. Very strong. Scared he would not be proud of her, but he will be. Mm...we should give you maps. In case..." Her head turns towards the others in the living room, thoughts gone speculative. So many.

<< (my talent is sentiment) >> Parley whispers to Nox with a thin sigh, hiding a laugh that is hidden deeper, one darker and grimmer. << (i know when it hides) >>. Wrapped within it is a cold, clinical suggestion of... repetition? Excessive... practice? He smoothes gently against Nox's obscured boundaries - he doesn't /dig/, doesn't pull, but he smooths their ragged edges without flinch nor recoil. << (...i know. i don't mind.) >> That's all. He listens to their discussion, hungry for any news, and Lucien is not an uncommon name in the house and each detail added to files for later.

Through this busy mechanic of sorting, straightening, withdrawing, Jackson's firm-yet-casual insistence dredges up a ripple of the same dull humor. << (just work.) >> As flat as a concept can be present. Briefcases and fax machines, sensible women's pumps and snippets of litigious expression. Claire's face; one of us, empath. And the face of Emma Frost. And his own two simple words: 'I'll go.'

"Maps," Jackson says, and here his thoughts are skipping around the people in the room too. There's thoughts of school and jobs for some of them but some of them there's a blank: what to do next? The thought of the sewer community is comforting, but also kind of -- last resort. "Would hafta be careful with 'em," he allows lightly, "but we sure could use all the, um, allies we can get right 'bout now. Was good fortune y'all took care'a him," and here there's an image, protective-fierce, angry, of Carnage going for Ryan, "S'there anything we can do for /you/? Sure y'all need time to recover." His head turns /abruptly/, though, at Parley's answer, Emma's face jumping to his mind, too, in the bright sterility of his tattoo studio. << Go >> echoes in his mind, and his expression pulls into a frown. << -- Oscorp? >> This is a /distinctly/ uncomfortable thought, << just work >> is highly skeptical as he mulls this over: it's never /just/ anything.

Nox, darkness incarnate, is also a well of sentiment. With ragged edges smoothed, it's easier to direct that--coolness that would be warmth in anyone else, affection and concern of the deepest maternal sort, velvet that doesn't smother but soothes and supports. These brush against the mind touching hers, fading in and out like kneading fingers courtesy of Nox's intangible condition. There's relief as well, to no longer be discussing herself--or her place in New York's public eye. "What is ours..." But she can't regretfully can't finish the whisper; it isn't hers to promise. "Time to rest, time to recover. Wounds to tend. But what you have done here...we...I...owe you more than can be said."

For a moment, under Nox's curious-kind kneading, Parley's mind grows hard, like a flexed muscle, and the sense of (practice?) repetition throbbing in him becomes a hammer, inexorably rising and falling, each a different room, a different mind, but all the same thing - /repetition/. And with it, his own personal tang is one grown bored and distant. And hard. He swallows and, as he's kneaded, he grooms. And breathes. And listens. << (you know?) >> There's a brief surprise, but it doesn't last long. And then another flat chuckle. << (you know a lot.) >> He fans out along the word 'Oscorp' presented in Jackson's mind, like smoke blown at a wall, touching on it impartially. << (interesting, isn't it?) >>

Jax's head tips down, his nose crinkling as he pushes his sunglasses back up with one kind of melon-sticky finger. "You don't owe us nothing," he says quietly to Nox. "We just --" His own mind is for a moment oddly -- blank? No, not blank, dark, a memory that is nothing but deep-dark blackness. Suffocating, crippling, agonizing. "You don't owe us nothing," is all he manages in the end. The darkness is pushed back by determinedly /cheerfuller/ memories. Gardening on the roof. Spraypainting the city more colourful. Saddling up a horse down on a wide open farm. Rock climbing with his kids. These things called to mind rather deliberately to /not/ think of the other. << I know, >> he eventually answers. << Interesting's one word for it. You're going? >> This is -- not upset, exactly, so much as cautious. Concerned.

There is a mental whisper of apology and then Nox fades completely, abandoning the chair in favor of the wall where the lack of lights falls deepest. Courtesy of Jax. The shadows there thrum with what might be her version of a sigh. "Perhaps." She will not argue with the host beyond that, her response a sort of compromise. "It is good, to have one less concern. I...should return. To the tunnels. I have been away from my...from mine, too long. Will you...?" Will they be all right. Will they keep in touch. Will they.

Parley offers his own ragged variety of apology; some remorse, some attempt to explain, all micropatchwork quilting together a cobble rich in some ways, intangible and flagging in others: organic touch, worming inward, pulling outward, stretching him from the /inside/. There are few tools that can plumb the depth of psionic minds better than /other/ psionic minds. << (we want to give what we can't/struggle to take.) >> he climbs onto the seat Nox surrenders, curling up his legs to rest on his hip. << (and maybe take what we could couldn't give.) >> He smooths a hand over the surface, seeking to see if it would be warmed by the shadow that had occupied it. << (you're kind. thank you.) >> It turns to Jax, and though they're to separate communications, he harbors the same tone and intensity for either: << (i wouldn't miss it.) >>

"Will we --" Jackson echoes this with a slight upward tilt of his lips, his head lifting again as his sunglass-shaded gaze fixes on Nox. His shoulder lifts, falls, just a slight twitch of motion. "We've done this afore. We've got practice." With these words he's /shoving/ back negative memories yet again to replace them with deliberately chosen cheer. "Will /you/?" Inwardly there's -- not much, now; at least not much that isn't deliberately chosen in a /bright/-fierce pastiche of happy! memories! << careful, >> is more a sentiment than a word, drawn up to layer on top of this cheer.

The seat is cool, as are the ghost-hands that briefly smooth down the rumpled hair atop Parley's head. Somehow, she is also brushing Jackson's shoulder, his cheek. "If I were braver I would have come with Tatters. Next time. Next time perhaps I will be able to give what I couldn't, this time," Nox murmurs. She is not so capable at lightness as Jax--surprise surprise--but she has that deep well of affection to draw on instead. Affection and protectiveness, enough for everyone. "I should go," she repeats then, "I should find Tatters, I should speak with the police. If I...will you tell Lucien. Hello. If I am away for a time. And Matt. The boys."

"They are very competent here." Parley's own sense is neither bright nor dark; he handles it tight-jawed as a tool, with eyes and head lowered steadily to the seat -- until it's beckoned up again by Nox's touch. A sense of genuine, if cautious surprise, rolling his head tentatively into her palm. To coax /pettings/. These, he seems pretty okay with. He otherwise doesn't interrupt; this is a private conversation. He gives it the privacy he can with a mellowing of his presence, like water pouring out through a leak. His first inclination is merely to shrug mentally to Jackson in polite abstinence of comment, beyond a thoughtful << (brave) >> for the ferocity of his cheer. But he softens to allow, with a hesitant kinder brush of mind to pave and gentle at the sharpness of it. << (i know). >>

"Be safe," Jackson says to Nox, warm in contrast to her cool, his smile brightening at her ghost-touch. "Are you -- planning to be away? I mean, I'll tell him, but -- Matt --" He frowns. "I mean, I'll tell him. But only -- be /safe/." He straightens, heading back into the kitchen to toss the fruit salad all together. There is a jumble, here, of images, memories. Emma. Warning about Osborn. Warning about bringing telepaths. Asking (threatening? warning?) him to attend. << Who are you working /for/? >> is both concerned and curious.

"They are most competent," Nox agrees gravely. "And only if the police are difficult. Better to sort this now, though. Be well, be safe." The pettings continue until morale improves--or at least until that sense of veiled presence just...goes. The shadows in the corner normalize, there is no further whispering. Nox has left the apartment.

Eyes slipping closed, it seems for a moment Parley slips out of himself and departs with Nox. Jackson looking directly at him could possibly make out this /process/, like the gradually dimming of a light. He seems more relaxed to be speaking mentally; it's the only real privacy there is within the apartment. His radio frequency doesn't seem to have suffered. If anything, it's a hair clearer. << (a lawyer. woman.) >> Claire's face is offered. << (know her?) (has taken mutant cases; advocate of mutant rights.) >> There's something he hesitates to add, only edging into it with a great leap of faith. << (also is a mutant. (she was approached by Ms. Frost. i assist. i came with.) >> Sense of a smile, though in body he's pulled his knees up to his chest to fold his arms on top of, watching Jackson's face. << (useful to have an empath.) >> He stands and slips past Jax, politely taking pains to not touching him this time to respect his preference. And begins to /aggressively/ tackle clean up. << (--i wanted to...) >>

Claire's face turns up nothing but blank in Jax's memory-contact-book, his brows pulling into a slight frown. << Safe? >> is his most important question about this New Employer, and there's a dual sense there -- is /she/ a safe person to be around, is /Parley/ safe in this new venture. << Wanted to --? >>

<< (heh). >> Parley muses, a memory fragment flickering past of Claire's own thoughts, spoken in French but not French in his recital, regarding Frost: 'is she dangerous?' << (you sound like her.) (She is kind.) >> He uses 'kind' in a way that doesn't necessarily agree with 'safe'. But there's a certain... skirting he takes around 'safe', with a hazy lack of confidence. Or interest. << (i don't trust anything to be safe.) >> He admits. << (and so. i will be careful.) >> He peeks out the door of the kitchen, and then withdraws again. << (wanted to give you this). >> He seeks to push an envelope into Jackson's hands. << (it's only $400.) (will be more.) >> This last has a sort of iron /fury/ to it. The subtle push of an ambition.

<< Can be a tiring way to live, >> Jackson says, of not trusting anything to be safe, but he says it thoughtful rather than discouraging, and the caution that's pervaded his own inquiries suggests his own view might not be far off. He's washing his hands after finishing with the fruit, and as Parley pushes the envelope at him he's drying them on his jeans. << ! >> is all that he is thinking of this initially, a wordless sort of surprise that, instinctively, reflexively, wants to refuse it. Refusals are already surfacing in his mind, << don't have to >> << don't need to >> << keep it >> but there's a moment of thought, amoment of battling back this reflex as more prudent (less prideful) thoughts percolate. Of how much better it feels to stay busy (stay /useful/) than to sit at home and stew. Of how much better it /will/ be for all of these people to be supporting themselves and not depending on the charity of near-strangers. ... of his recently shut-off internet and the persistent calls from Verizon saying his phone is next on the line; of the past-due gas bill and rent on its way. He draws in a slow breath, and takes the envelope. << You kept any for yourself? >>

The arguments mounting in Jackson all but feel an /equally/ big storm stewing on Parley's front; under wear and habit and necessity of silence, there's a /pride/. He relaxes when Jackson's fades, only murmuring the less biting of arguments: << (roommates share rent. I live here, too.) >> Even if his concept of 'here' is... nebulous and mixes in a small /handful/ of apartments in the complex and the roof? And the lobby? And the park? << (i saved some). >> He swallows apology for admitting it, firming his shoulders. << (need better shoes/clothes). >> There might also be 'candy' stuck in with shoes/clothes. Some sort of implied food. Uh. Crap. Now that he's got that out of the way, he's shrinking up and ducking to slip past Jackson again.

<< Good, >> is Jax's reply to Parley saving some, apology unnecessary given the faint note of relief that accompanies this answer. << Good. >> A hesitation; Jackson looks over the kitchen, gives it kind of a /frown/ for not having more food immediately in need of preparing, and drifts back out towards the living room. He stops to glance at his fish tank, eying its water level. He stoops to get a small canister of food from beneath it, pinching out some flakes to sprinkle them on top of the water. << You enjoy it? The work? >>

<< (...) >> Parley's hesitation doesn't indicate he /doesn't/ enjoy it. More a hesitation to indicate he /does/, allowing a more clear affirmative to come eventually, while he kneels down to scrub some of the fruitjuice from the floor. << (there are many different types of people.) (i help her understand.)(it's the same work I-...) >> Visual: cement walls. strangers bound to tables - but not him. odd uncomfortable privilege. The face of a brunette young man with a scarred face. << (--i like being out.) >> Much smaller. << (where no one knows.) >> He spider-crawls over Jackson's mind, exploring his Cheer. << (did you?) >> It's not entirely specific what this asks - many things, maybe.

There's a quiet internal tightening at this visual; it's soft and buries itself beneath the same glitter-bright stream of cheerful memories. << There is something nice, >> murmurs back. << About being out. Where noone knows. >> His head turns, slightly, but with the large dark glasses it's hard to see quite where his gaze is directed. << But you can do other work. If you want. >> He straightens to go pick up his messenger bag again, slinging it over his shoulder. << -- did I? >> Puzzled, here.

<< (--how long were you?) >> It's almost a different question Parley asks. Mild. While he hunts down any other sticky points along the floor or the ridges of the cabinets for other stray spatters.

There's the mental equivalent of a shrug, at this. If Jackson has any deeper reply to give, it's buried (under sunshine! horses! the rich cool feel of fingers in soil! bright splashes of firework-colour over a New York night sky!) and he slips past to get out a stack of dishes to put by the food. << S'anything you need? >> It's a vague-open question, ranging from a fork for lunch to new clothes to someone to talk to to -- well. It's open-ended.

'Except'. It's almost a word hung in the air, and Parley fingers it like silk just on his side. He allows a knowing, muted amusement to expose itself - vague, bleak. But curious, too, idly reknitting itself to pull back the spidery exploring fingers to allow Jackson his private burial. << (...nothing important.)(thank you, Mr. Holland. you've been kind.) (i'm glad Mr. Black is alright.) >> He raises his head from the ground - he'd been fishing under a counter for an errant grape.

<< Jax, >> Jackson corrects, with a faintly uncomfortable twinge at the formality. << Anything unimportant, then? >> "Lunch's ready," is lighter, not just to Parley but to the house at large as he sets the fruit salad next to more substantive offering (soup, today, spicy and full of black beans.) He's not getting a bowl for himself, just plucking stray fruits from the fruit bowl to eat them.

The call to lunch turns heads; a few are already rolling to their feet from seats on the floor. Parley skims his eyes along their... legs, really, from his vantage. And their approach. His mouth compresses. << (actually, i should go.) >> Vague apology allows itself here as he slips to his feet in a gathering of legs, cutting for the door with his presence suppressed. << (be safe.) >>

<< You didn't eat. >> It's hard to tell where Jackson is looking, as Parley slips away, and his thoughts carry with them that same veneer of cheer carefully blanketing what had previously been rapid-fire chaos. His expression is nothing but warm, as he sets cutlery out beside the dishes. /Be safe/, is echoed more in sentiment than in words, carefully again laid atop the backdrop of warmfeelings. He turns from the kitchen, lingering a long moment before heading off towards the boys' room.

<< (There's food everywhere.) >> Parley doesn't sound concerned. Just dead set on hurrying, face perfectly reasonable in its kind of chin-thrust-forward manner. He slips out the door with a quiet click.