From X-Men: rEvolution

Echoes and Images

Dramatis Personae

Jackson, Iztali

19 May 2013

Jax's apartment is kind of /horrible/ for psychometry. Tali's abilities finally prove helpful. (Part of the Thunderdome TP.)


<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.

Jax returns to his apartment around early evening, still pretty blandly dressed in Xavier's tee and black lightweight hiking pants. Also a good deal of sweat; his first stop is taking a /shower/, washing off the salty remains of a lot of training and trading out for more colourful attire. Purple capri pants, a black tanktop, silvery fishnet sleeves. It's only once he's put water on the stove to boil for tea that he starts relaxing, or near enough, humming quietly to himself as he sets out fresh food and water for Sprite and Obie.

Tali walks up the front stairs of the Lofts building uncertainly, her well-broken in hiking boots tapping softly on each step. Despite the warm weather, she is dressed in fawn-coloured leggings and a long-sleeved blouse with crocheted hem work, in a deep chocolate-brown that matches her eyes. Her hands are concealed, as always, within a pair of thin gloves, though she has selected a set in dark brown for the day. One of the hands also clutches a yellow hardcover book to her chest as she presses the button for 303. Buzzbuzz.

"Hi! Tali?" Presuming she answers in the affirmative, Jax buzzes her up into the apartment. "Door's open when you get up." Which he makes true immediately afterwards by unlocking it.

The answer was, in fact, affirmative. Tali makes her way up by elevator this time, careful to touch as few things as possible in the process. She is, nevertheless, still somewhat shaken by the time she reaches the door. She taps it twice with the cover of her book by way of knocking before pushing it open gingerly. Tali stands for a moment, watching her own hand on the doorknob, before stepping /just/ through the threshold. “Jackson. Your building has a great deal of /character/.” A frown is offered back to the door as she pushes it closed, though she manages to convert this to a soft half-smile by the time she looks up at Jax.

"Yeah," in normal circumstances this might be a compliment but Jax accepts it apologetically, his nose wrinkling. "We've -- we got a /lot/ of folks around here who --" He shrugs, gesturing Tali inside. "D'you mind taking off your shoes?" This is asked apologetically, too, with a gesture to the neat row of shoes lined up by the door. Some are decidedly too small to be Jax's. Child-shoes.

"Do you take tea? Coffee? I, um, I got some brownies, too. If you -- like." He is lingering near the couch, scuffing his fingers through his hair. "How're you -- doing?"

Tali nods at the shoe request, staying precisely on the same square of floor as she unlaces the boots. Hiking boots take some unlacing. “Socks are also helpful, to a degree,” she submits by way of acknowledging the series of silent apologies from Jax. The boots meet the other shoes, and something in this process blooms a brighter smile on her features. “Your little one seems like quite the handful.” She shakes her head at the offer of food. “No…food and drink tend to be quite distracting. The contact is too direct. It is difficult for me, in a new place. Everything is already…loaded.” Tali does take a few steps forward to avoid the awkwardness of lingering in the doorway, trying not to be the most terrible house guest. “I have been as well as--” her statement is strangled under a pained sound by her third step. Both arms tighten around the book, hugging it to her chest like a child’s teddy bear. “Oh. It is like…being in a hospital. Here.” Not that this is a very clear explanation, but it is the best she can manage.

"Oh -- oh, /gosh/, I didn't --" Jackson flushes deep crimson, and his brow creases abruptly. "I'm sorry, I didn't think -- I didn't -- would it be better to go outside?" His hand scuffs through his hair, and his teeth worry at his lip ring. "Sorry, this was really -- my place is -- is there anything that helps?"

“I just...I don’t understand. How there are so many,” Tali forces the words out through gritted teeth. Her eyes finally settle on Jackson without looking /through/ him. “There have been...fewer burns and missing limbs and nightmares about torture outside?” Again, she is keeping completely still, for fear of what any new contact would add to this emotional molotov cocktail.

"I -- my friends and I -- my kids, um, things, have been kind of -- rough around here, I'm sorry. Maybe the -- maybe the park across the street?" Jackson's phone is chirruping in his pocket, cheerfulbright, 'Pocketful of Sunshine' ringing merrily. He frowns, reaching for it, but doesn't answer yet, just eying Tali questioningly.

“It could…maybe. Does it tend to be very crowded?” Time and stillness seems to be helping Tali somewhat. One hand maintains its death grip on her book while the other traces its spine. “Crowds are also difficult.” She glances around, then nods toward the fire escape. “Is it safe out there?” The phone ringing fails to convey any meaning to Tali. It is just another voice for now.

"Probably not around this hour. S'crowded in the afternoon. Not so much 'round the evening. Out there is --" Jax glances towards the fire escape. The phone rings again. "Probably quieter. Still pretty teenagery. Less, um, missing limbs."

“I’ll take teenager over field hospital, if you please,” Tali requests politely, as if ordering from a menu. Snuggling the book against her again like a diminutive shield, she proceeds to cross the room. Halting, wincing. Maybe the floor is lava.

Jackson blushes, crossing to the window to unlock it for Tali and open up the exit to the fire escape. "M'sorry," he says then, apologetic once more, "I don't mean to -- there's just been a lot of -- I should take this." The phone, he means, which he answers chipper-bright as he holds the window open: "Hello, this is Jackson." A pause, and allll the colour drains from his face. There's a trembling in the light in the room, and then it quiets. He still /sounds/ calm, warm, when he continues: "Gosh, Mr. Osborn, this is a surprise. I got a couple minutes, yes. How can I help you?"

Tali demonstrates quite the propensity for climbing, scurrying swiftly through the window and to the metal structure outside. While it is not precisely quiet out there, at least the charge that this area holds is…still. Brooding. Smoky. And there is less immediate fear of death and bodily harm. She leans against a rail, prepared for another session of /not/ moving. Jax’s voice causes her to peer back through the window. Oh, he is on the telephone…some of the sounds that had filled her head must have been present. Current. It is sometimes hard to tell.

He holds up a finger -- one minute -- and the sounds of conversation grow dimmer as he slips aside into the kitchen. His voice is quiet. It isn’t /too/ long before he returns, poking his head through the large window. Still kind of a little too pale, but his smile is quick and bright. “Sorry about that,” he says to Tali. “Are you -- is it better out here? I’m sorry, I should’ve -- can I do something? To help? Get you anything? Um,” he adds, a little more sheepish, “stop pesterin’ you?”

Tali has settled in on the fire escape when Jax returns, and she looks somewhat more relaxed. The book is back to being held in one hand, at the very least. “It is all right. And yes, it is quieter out here. More…like most places. I am able to converse over this; it will be fine.” Her head cants in that feline fashion, eyes narrowing almost imperceptibly. “Jackson, may I remind you that I am here at your behest? By all means, please pester. I am curious.”

Jackson slips out the window, leaning in the corner against the fire escape’s railing. “It’s just,” he says, looking down at the city below and then back at Iztali, “I spent a -- a good amount of my time, actually. Working with young mutants on how to -- how to control their abilities. How to live with them. I know a lot of people who have a lot of practice helping with that kind of thing, and I think they -- we -- could help you.”

He hesitates, and dips his head as he admits: “But that ain’t the only reason I’m curious. It’s -- it’s selfish. I think your -- I think what you do. Could help me. Right now.”

A bemused grin slides across Tali’s features. “I seem to have a way of running into people who are able to assist in this fashion, lately. Would that such luck had decided to strike several months ago! But I will not, as they say, look the gift horse in the mouth. Whatever assistance or references you can provide, I am grateful.” That somewhat intensely regarding gaze returns as Jax reveals his purpose. Well, then. “They’ll make a village wisewoman of me yet. You need me to look at something for you? Tell you about its history? I will try, but I do have to warn that my skill is unrefined. There is no guarantee that the particular event you wish to see is what will present itself to me.” Her expression is amused again, but the thoughts that she should by all rights be consulting a star chart and throwing some bones at this point…are kept within the confines of her skull.

“This building’s pretty much full of strange coincidence,” Jackson says with a lopsided grin. It fades, soon. “It’s -- I mean, I figured it’s kind of a long shot, but -- we’ve kinda just got a lot of long shots right now.” He reaches into his pocket, pulling out a plastic baggy with a small scrap of torn canvas fabric inside, the type from grocery tote bags. He doesn’t hold it out yet. “I -- don’t know if I’m even right,” he says, “but if I am I don’t think -- I think what I’m looking for ain’t -- gonna be no /pleasant/ kind of memory.”

“This building’s pretty full of /everything/ it seems,” Tali retorts softly. She watches the item’s retrieval closely. Hello there, little mouse. “Hm, it wouldn’t be, would it?” she muses aloud. “How unpleasant are we talking? It is not that I am unwilling, mind, I should just warn… If it is something strong enough, I may not maintain complete control of my actions while I am seeing it.”

“I -- I don’t know,” Jackson admits, apologetically. He keeps the baggy, holding it scrunched up into a fist. “I --” He glances back towards his apartment. “Two of my kids are missing. Maybe -- possibly kidnapped. I think one of them might have had this when -- it happened.” He uncurls his hand, the bag sitting on his palm. He doesn’t quite offer it out to Tali yet, though. “Is there -- anything that helps? When you get like that?”

Tali’s brows knit as Jax further describes the issue at hand. “Oh…oh no. That is horrible Jax, I’m sorry. What you must be going through…” Here is where Tali might rest a comforting hand on Jax’s arm or shoulder. She does not. “I honestly don’t know. The one time it got really bad, I don’t think there was anything that… Just don’t let me stab anyone?” It is a dark sort of joke.

For all it is probably-horrible, Jackson seems rather calm. “We’re doing what we can to find them. Finding leads has just been -- slow.” Tentatively, he offers the bag out to Tali on the palm of his hand. “I’m pretty stab-resistant,” he answers, answering the dark joke with a crooked twist of smile.

“Here is hoping there is something to this, then,” Tali replies with a nod. “Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.” She takes the bag, pinching it between two fingers, her brow already starting to furrow. Her book is tucked under her arm to allow her to pull off her right glove, and reach bare-handed into the bag, to contact the scrap of fabric.

Tali makes a low sound at the back of her throat. “There is a lot of anger. The boy, who smokes on the fire escape. And…fear. It’s…cops. Two of them. Probably going to arrest us for—” She /hisses/, faint and breathy. “He’s got a--” and again, she has interrupted herself. This time with a little cry of pain. She drops the book and it hits the ground like a discarded bag of groceries. Tali’s form is soon to follow, slowly sinking into a crouch on the fire escape with a whimper.

Jackson’s hand clenches at his side. There’s a faint tremble of light around him, his jaw tightening at the mention of the cops. He just nods, though, slowly. The clench of his muscles relaxes at Tali’s cry, and he drops forward quickly to one knee, reaching to pluck the bag and its piece of fabric back form Tali. He picks up her book, too, uncertainly offering it back to her. “I’m sorry,” he says, though this is quiet and doesn’t actually sound as reflexively apologetic as before. “I -- your book.” He nudges it gently against her hand.

Approaching was likely not Jackson’s best decision ever. The impressions from Shane, who had been in direct contact with the bag, fade with his unconsciousness. But…Sebastian was still fighting. Tali flashes rather unimpressive little human teeth at Jax with a low growl. His attempts to take the bag and return the book both earn swipes with her fingernails, which are fortunately also unimpressive and human, slashing out at whatever is within reach.

Jackson is -- as promised, somewhat stab-resistant. Slash-resistant. Either way. Also, well-experienced with the sharkboy Tali is channeling, who has rather impressively not-human claws and impressively not-human reflexes.

His reflexes, therefore, are pretty honed; the swipes earns a widening of eye, but finds Tali fingers scuffing against the warm and very solid wall of a faintly shimmering prismatic surface, that lingers for a moment and then fades. “Tali.” Jackson’s voice is quiet, but firm. He takes a step back, one hand lifted, palm-out; the other still holds her book. “/Tali/. Come back. You’re not -- there. You’re here. On the fire escape.”

The growl-like sound repeats itself from Tali’s throat, though it ends in gasp, and then a hiss, after her hands meet with the light shield. It is as if it had struck her instead of the other way around. Her breathing goes shallow and she sinks even further, now sitting slumped. She whimpers softly before her eyes fall closed. They snap back open almost immediately, her gaze far more present. She blinks several times, like a person wakened suddenly from a deep sleep. “Oh! Oh, I’m sorry…” Her expression lands somewhere between pained and embarrassed.

“Do you need a moment?” Jax’s hand drops. Cautiously, he offers her the book back again. “Thank you,” he says quietly, “I’m sorry that you -- thank you.” His eyes drop, to the scrap of fabric. “I know a man,” he says. “He’d probably be excellent for helping you learn how to -- start controlling that. See things when /you/ want to see them.”

“No, no, I…” Tali shakes her head emphatically. She rather meekly accepts the book in the pause before she speaks again, cradling it like a small animal. “Jackson. These men in police uniforms. They used tasers and batons on a pair of frightened children. I do not know what happened after that, because they were both unconscious, and the strongest impressions came from them. But…they are missing, as you say…” The look in her eyes moves from extremely worried to stony. “I can give you a very detailed description of the two men. One of them gave orders during…I think he was in charge. At least, between the two.”

“They’ve been missing for weeks,” Jackson affirms, soft but calm. Outwardly calm, anyway, save for a tightening of his jaw, for a moment. “And the cops --” He breathes out slowly, and nods. “Could you?” There’s a shimmer in the air in front of them, and then it resolves into -- a figure, two figures, human in shape but featureless, like department-store mannequins. Wearing NYPD uniforms. “Let me know when I got it right?”

Tali looks very much like she wishes to comfort Jax, but instead she tugs the discarded glove back on her right hand. “That is…rather amazing,” she comments on the shimmering images, curious and clearly wanting to ask more about it, but there are /far/ more important matters at hand. With a resolute nod, she sets about providing a description. Either she is very good at this, or there is some help from her abilities, for she provides a particularly vivid picture for Jax’s mind’s eye. This process continues until the illusionist’s images are perfect replicas of what might be excessively frightening-looking men, given how Tali had seen them.