ArchivedLogs:Fire Ants and Firelight

From X-Men: rEvolution
Fire Ants and Firelight
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Ivan, Jackson, Jim, Micah, Peter, Rasa, Ryan, Sebastian, Shane, Shelby, Daiki


The last night of Georgia-vacation.


Holland Farm - Georgia

Somewhere far out back behind the stables -- far enough to avoid any dangerous meetings between ASH and HAY -- late at night -- a pile of old, broken furniture combined with some spare chunks of firewood have been heaped together, /very/ gingerly sprinkled with a petroleum product, and /lit ablaze/ -- producing a fairly large, fairly comfortable, fairly /steady/ flame. Crackly, orange, and extending outward into a bright metallic tangerine glow; anyone and everyone is invited to sit around and -- well, do whatever. Roast marshmallows. Hotdogs. S’mores. /Glare/ at the flame. Maybe just babble incessantly.

Peter’s there, crouched with his knees shoved up against his chest, pretty close to the fire; his arms are draped over his knees, with his chin propped up on his wrists. He’s clad in a loose-fitting Pulp Fiction T-shirt, with Boba Fett and Darth Vader as Jules and Vincent; jeans under that, two-toed socks on his feet -- his ridiculous Buddy Holly glasses perched on his nose. The firelight overwhelms the reflective surface of his chitin, reflecting off the polished surface -- giving his face a bright, burning orange /glow/.

Jackson is there. He has, with his father, helped build this fire, perhaps to avoid any unfortunate teenage pyromania incidents. He is colourful, to his parents' unending but quiet dismay; bright pink tank top, sky-blue shorts. Barefoot. Glittery purple nails. At the moment, what he is electing to do with the fire is just stare into it. At least that is what it looks like from most angles; from where he is standing and just beside him, there are shapes forming in the flames in front of him. Winged people. Horned people. Odd monstrous things with tentacles and too many eyes. Claws. Teeth. Sometimes his flames are purple.

Micah is half way to lying on his side, side-sitting with most of his weight propped up on an extended left arm with its palm on the ground, fingers splayed. His attire remains unexciting, much of it matching what he had worn the day before (another plain white tee, another pair of faded jeans), only swapping his button-down for one in a pleasant jade green. He is sitting close to Jax, but not sprawled against him as would be his habit…because it’s a little full of teenagers and parents ‘round here. His head is sort of lolling onto his own shoulder as he splits his attention between sketching the index finger of his free hand through the dirt and observing Jax’s mini /Monstrous Manual/ show.

"You glow." Shane is whispering this to Peter like a /secret/. Like a /secret/ he is also darting a tinykiss against Peter's cheek. Nearby, this makes Daiki smile. Together with Bastian, they are forming a conglomerate-o-teenager, by Peter. Shane is dressed far more casually than his usual. Cargo shorts. A sleeveless ribbed shirt. Bastian has the same, though his shirt is white to Shane's black. He and Daiki are marshmallow toasting. Probably the marshmallows are vegan.

It's so nice and quiet here. So very nice. And quiet. At least until, "/PETER/!" From somewhere in the darkness around the bonfire, sounds a voice. It's a little hoarse, mainly due to the fact that it is not usually a voice that is used much for being /loud/. "PETER, Peter, /PETER/--" Again. This time closer, with the sound of footsteps on dry ground joining it. It's an Ivan, emerging into the light in a very /calculated/ but decidedly excited beeline, wearing his usual black pea coat, jeans and sneakers, white dress shirt underneath. And... something else. Something stark brownish red against that white.

"/FIRE ANTS/!" ... Ivan is crawling with them - as he approaches the fire further, they shimmer as they skitter chaotically across his hands and the black of his coat. He is also smiling pretty damn happily. There are a few moths flying behind him, bumbling toward and away from the nice, bright fire nearby. This place? Is bug heaven.

“O--oh,” Peter manages, at Shane’s tiny-kiss, eyebrows shooting up and eyes widening; if he’s blushing, the glow of the fire off his chitin makes it impossible to tell -- but he is /probably/ blushing. Very hard. A moment later, and he scoots just a /little/ closer to Shane, continuing to peer at the fire. Right up until -- oh, /oh/. “Ivan,” Peter begins, head crooning to watch him approach -- eyes got wide at the tinykiss, but now they’re /popping/ open. “Ivan be /careful/ fire ants are dangerous--”

Farther out from the glow of the flames, there trudges a silent ominous shape that raises up clawed scratchy branches in silhouette against the brilliant country stars. Jim is on full blown Evil Dead Tree mode; he may have been told earlier in the day but plants don't move on the rushed mayfly speeds of the /meatbag/ community.

So he's been kind of slow-motion creeping himself along, from wherever he'd been sunk into ground earlier in the day, withdrawing the roots behind him with quiet creaking of greenwood and a purry unzipping, crumpling sound where new roots spear into the ground to haul him along. It's a little Sea Witch tentacular. He could make legs. But he's lazy. And tired. And the dirt is delicious out here livin' on The Land. He probably is leaving a kind of churned JimTrail in his wake. /Eyeing/ those teenagers warily. And the fire. Maybe gauging their flammability.

Still worn are the tatty Hawaiian shirt he'd donned, probably a bit wrinkly from enduring the elements outside. And the same old kilt - sporting the words WHOMPING WILLOW in the midst of its plaid patterns. His injuries are looking far far better; the gouges once carved out have refilled with dark gnarly plant-scarring, and while the sunken pit in his chest and the spears of bone still lodged there (sawed off on either end to not stick out), his face wound has begun to knit back together. With the help of a little hemp palm twine to hold it together. Training his... plantface to be... face-y in its regrowth.

Shelby, who started this idea, has been noticeably missing from all of the fire-starting and fire ants and fire /everything/. The reason why is simple--she’s realized that the best thing about the country is to be able to have bonfires and it’s led her off to collect wood. More wood. As much wood as she can carry, to create the biggest, snappiest, sparkiest bonfire in the history of the same. She comes trundling by Jim, her arms filled with assorted deadwood. “C’mon, pokey, get yer roots in gear!” she crows at him, practically skipping past. It’s time to set the world on fire, wheeeee!

Hive is sauntering in. Lazy-slow. In falling-apart duct-taped together sneakers, jeans once black now faded to grey, 'resistance is futile (if <1 ohm)' t-shirt. He saunters slooow, behind the ENT, and sips at a large glass that is probably sweet tea and probably heavily doctored with alcohol bought in town because unlike the Hollands /some/ people on this farm at the moment like the boozing. "Can trees get drunk?"

"Are you going to stick his roots in booze and find out?" Rasa is helping Shelby with the deadwood. Ze has an armload that ze puts in a pile by the other wood, for feeding into the flame later. Shelby can add hers directly to the flame if ze wants to. The metamorph is also distracted by the appearance of on Ivan. Hir jaw drops and hir forehead furrows. Shiiiiit.

Ivan comes to a bumbling sort of stop, smile fading and expression inching closer to neutrality with every familiar and unfamiliar face he finds his gaze drawn to. And just like that, he slips back into his quieter self, the ants slowing their nervous pacing across his limbs. Quietly, very quietly, he offers, "... These are not-- dangerous...?" The end of that sentence is lost mostly to distraction when the lumbering mass that is a /walking tree/ makes its way closer to the group.

Ivan freezes, eyebrows crumpling toward each other, and /stares/. First at Jim, then somewhat desperately at the group. As if to ask-- is anyone-- else... seeing this? Y-yeah okay. The ants promptly clump together on his form, before disappearing out of the fire's light and into the sleeves, collar and seams of his coat. Out of sight, out of mind? If they ARE dangerous, they certainly don't seem to be doing /him/ any harm.

"Uh, yeah, dude, fire ants are fucking dangerous." Shane doesn't say this like he's angry about it, just like, duh. "So's /fire/ though." He sidles closer to his brother. Nabs a marshmallow straight off its toasting spit, and hisses quietly at its heat.

"Fire," Bastian reminds him. "Dangerous."

Daiki smiles quietly at that. "Do you want a s'more?" He is looking at Ivan and Peter for this. "It has chocolate. And marshmallow." He seems quite enchanted with this idea.

"Shelby," Shane calls cheerfully, sucking goopy melting marshmallow off a long claw, "there's s'mores."

Peter just -- /gapes/ at Jim, as he trundles closer -- his brief surprise at Ivan (which, for a moment, seemed to demonstrate the /most/ surprise Peter’s face could register -- but now it’s clear, there’s a bit of room for some more!) eclipsed by the shock of seeing... “OhmyGod it’s, /Treebeard/,” Peter says -- kind of soft, but still loud enough to be heard by anyone in his immediate vicinity. This is coupled with a grin. “Man I didn’t know if he --” Daiki’s comment about s’mores seems to distract him from the sight of a /walking tree/. Which, on its own, is pretty remarkable. He looks to Daiki -- bites his lip -- then looks to Ivan, and -- back to Daiki. “Yes.” This is /very/ emphatic.

<< Right about now, I wish. >> Jim answers Hive, creak-crackling in slow-motion as he gradually unfurls an arm, raises up a hand to the collection of branches that rise up from his back like gnarled Lovecraftian wings, plucks off a cherry and /tosses/ it at the side of Peter's sweet little shiny head for the Treebeard comment. The rest of the cherries all sway with the movement like little bright ornaments. A few drop off. JIM LEAVINGS HELP YOURSELF. Grumbled lower, from beyond the great slow-plant-stupid mind, all grinding churning roots, << ...tell the bugkid with the big eyes over there. Think I lost his spiders. >> Yeah. He's eyeing you Ivan. With hard faded blue eyes set contrasting starkly in the middle of the /rough bark/. Stare. STARE.

Micah offers a little wave to each newcomer upon arrival, though he doesn’t look up much in the process. The general teenager-ing also doesn’t grab his attention overtly until there are /swarms of fire ants on a person/. He shoves himself up into a more manoeuvrable sitting posture, just staring for a second with a brief flash of an ‘argh, city kids!’ expression. “Yes, yes dangerous. They ain’t called fire ants ‘cause of their /looks/. They sting. Enough to send some folks to the hospital. Can you /please/ be careful?” Micah may be running through a mental checklist of where to find thick gloves and an Epipen, and which home remedies would be easiest to access in the event of /stings/. Ivan seems to be keeping the little things under control for now, however. And Jim bears more extended observation, besides, because how often do trees start walking while you watch? Not very often.

“... definitely careful, Ivan, those things can seriously hurt a body.” The colours in the fire in front of Jax die out. The monsterimages distort and vanish. His eye widens at the sight of Jim, though, distracted, too, from the boy with his host of tiny-terrible. “Oh, my gosh,” he murmurs, “I feel like I should be smokin’ a pipe’a Old Toby ‘bout now.”

Ryan arrives late to the bonfire, trekking out from yonder wooded area behind Shelby and behind Jim with yet /more/ lumber in his arms. Where he lags behind, he compensates for his speed with the more laden /bulk/ of his cargo; although, it does not take long for him to outpace Jim, with a snipe of, “Don’t worry dude, I lingered behind to say a few words over your dead aunts and uncles before hauling them here to their funeral pyre.” He approaches the growing woodpile with a beaming smile for everyone he passes, dumping his load to primp his appearance. Dressed for the occasion, his dark beanie, canvas flannel, grey down vest, and black Doc Martens certainly advertise ‘camping’ - except they are painfully /NEWly/ bought with their cleanliness and lack of wear and tear. Taking up a post beside the BFF, he turns to Jax, “Well, I got a pipe, dunno ‘bout... straight Old Toby.” Smile.

“Oh my fucking god,” Shane reaches over to S’MORES PREPARATION STATION to grab an uncooked marshmallow and THROW it over towards Ryan’s head. At his distance it prooobably misses, his strength is good but his aim is lazy, who KNOWS who gets marshmallowed. Maybe Micah. Maybe his DAD. Maybe TREEJIM, “you canNOT smoke weed at my GRANDPARENTS’ house booze is one thing but they’re like. All. /Grandparenty/ Jax’s ma would probably /die/.”

“His pa would probably take a switch to you,” Bastian tells Ryan (but only after looking around the fire to make sure Mr. Holland is not still /lingering/, “have you /seen/ his SternFace?”

“... that’s his only face, dude,” Shane answers.

Daiki still smiles. He has neat rows of chocolate layered on neat rows of graham crackers set on plates near the fire, warming the chocolate, not quite melting them. He squishes toasted marshmallow between top layers of graham cracker and quickly dispenses two of these sandwiches. Peter? Ivan? S’MORE? “I think,” he says quietly, “that Mr. Holland has endured worse things than marijuana.”

“Yeah but he’d /still/ take a switch to y-- oh my god.” Shane’s eyes get bigger. “Ryan. Getting whipped by -- Ryan, you /gotta/ smoke up now.”

“Whoa,” Peter exclaims, hand darting out with a snap to catch the Jimberry. Peering at it. Suddenly wrinkling his brow in thought. “...wait, does this --” He holds it out in front of Shane. As if he expects Shane to sniff it for him. “--is this made out of -- /people/?” he asks. Before accepting a Daiki s’more and promptly. CHOMP. Verdict: PETER <3 S’MORES.

At the mention of Ryan’s smoking habits and consequences thereof, well. Again, if Peter’s blushing, no one’s going to be able to tell. But he seems extraordinarily flabbergasted just at the mention of things like /marijuana/ oh my /God/.

“Fuck S’mores, I got /the pokin’ stick/,” Shelby says, after dumping her armload of wood beside Rasa’s. The stick in question is long, stripped free of little branches and satisfying pokey. She demonstrates by proceeding to stab its tip into the edge of the bonfire, sending up little plumes of sparks and smoke. There is something a little city-kid manic about this--but then, short of the company, it’s been the first thing that’s delighted her all weekend.

Shane’s marshmallow missile does, in fact, find a target. It sort of plunks onto Micah’s shoulder, and he manages to catch it in one hand on the rebound bounce. He gives it an appraising look before shrugging (apparently in determination that it is an edible thing) and popping the marshmallow into his mouth. Waste not the sugar! “Ifh—“ Swallow. “I think your first instinct was prob’ly the better one, there, Shane. Gotta be polite houseguests and try not to be /too/ illegal in someone else’s home, yeah?” His tone remains light, somewhere between ‘playing along’ and ‘someone has to remind people how to behave in a group like this’. He might be feeling a little bit Camp Counsellor by this point...

“My pa,” Jackson manages to sound only a /little/ bit aggrieved, “is not /spanking/ Ryan.” The flames in front of him are shifting in colours again, and, perhaps in the middle-earth spirit, the showers of embers that Shelby’s poking stirs up start to shift into more fantastical configurations. Zigzagging pinwheels. A colour-changing tornado. A bird that looks like it is rising /out/ of the bonfire. His arm snakes around Ryan’s waist, weight shifting in against the taller man. “-- you can smoke up /not/ at my folks’ house,” he says with a crooked smile. “I should. Maybe. Toast some actual /food/ on this thing.” Though he doesn’t /actually/ seem inclined to move. Just watch the flames, kind of mesmerized by their dancing.

“Jim lost your spiders,” Hive helpfully relays to Ivan, though he tacks on after it in a grumble to Jim: “there’s seventeen /billion/ spiders this kid is covered in fucking fire ants who the fuck is going to notice.” He’s /scowling/ at the fire in very much contrast to Shelby’s enthusiasm for it. Rather than add anything to it by way of kindling or toasting marshmallow he irritably kicks a stray piece of wood away from it. Thankfully, not one that has been on fire yet. His next drink of doctored tea is longer and then he -- experimentally tips some out onto Jim’s ROOTS before fitting himself in near Micah and Jax and Ryan. Because ADULTS.

Well, also friends.

But mostly, adults.

Ryan DUCKS from the incoming projectile (however PUFFY, however harmless), scowling at the sharktwins with an air of hurt. “Dudes, I’ve got /so many/ skills at hiding shit from parents. How d’you --”

“-- NOT,” Jackson interrupts, “smoking at my parents’ house.”

“--think I survived at home for so long?” The /police/ are another matter entirely. /STILL/ for adult comfort he slants a look at the interjecting illusionist, mumbling, “Relax, I totally left my stash in the city. I was planning on Jim here to grow me some wicked hybrid str--well, /was/.” Emphasis on /past tense/.

Illicit substances banned, he’ll indulge in his one of his /other/ vices, leaning in against Jax with an arm draped over his shoulder and calling to Shelby, “YO, why don’t you go fetch my guitar or something, make yourself useful.” Unheard, he MINDWHISPERS to Hive, << /dude/, where. are. the. booze. >>

With Jax so kindly providing the imagery, Shelby takes over to provide the show. She steals the firebird and lifts it above the fire, wings and tail curling small (harmless) sparks out over the crowd as it flaps higher and higher in a widening spiral. Concentrating as she is, it means she is slow with the snappy when Ryan drops his demand into the mix. Eventually, however, she comes up with a zinger: “What do I look like, your bitch?”

Ohoho, grinning in self-congratulatory fashion, she scuttles away from the fire--pokin’ stick in tow--to avoid any retaliation. Behind her, the dancing bird sputters and falls into the flames. Destination: geetar hiding place.

“Yup,” Bastian tells Peter cheerfully, when Peter eats the Jimfruit. “Soylent Jim.”

Daiki winces. But his smile is amused all the same. For a moment his s’moresmaking is on hold, dark eyes watching the lightshow (fireshow?) with rapt attention. “You all should do that,” he says. “Professionally.”

“They’d get a ticket,” Shane answers with a snort.

“In public, yes,” Daiki answers. “Private venues are not public -- places. It is up to the venue whether or not that is -- enforced.”

“Mmn.” Shane stares into the fire, considering. “-- he’s a rockstar, Shelby, /everyone/ looks like his bitch to him.”

“He’s forgotten his roots already,” Bastian laments.

“Micah!” Shane has grabbed himself another marshmallow. “If you open your mouth I can get the next one /straight/ in!” Or. Well. He can TRY.

Micah is distracted for a moment by the fire show, but then there are /more people/! He nudges his shoulder into Hive’s arm as the other man sits, like a greeting cat. “Hey, how you holdin’ up?” Talk of guitar-fetching distracts him into yet /another/ conversation. So much going on! “Ooo, is there gonna be singin’?” Then his name is called and he actually has an excuse to ADD-bounce in another direction. Marshmallow projectiles seem like about the /least/ trouble this group could get into. He holds his mouth open as directed and waves a hand for Shane to give it a shot.

Oh no, excuse me-- everyone. There is a WALKING TREE. Ivan fails to /not/ be captivated by this, his eyes only occasionally managing to look away from that THING. This is also the case when spiders are mentioned, which is when something clicks /very slowly/ into place in his brainpan. A moment later, head cocking to the side curiously, he asks of Jim, "... Bagels and lox?" /Stare/. He inches closer, hands clasping together behind his back as fire ants start, once more, spreading up across his neck and out onto his hands behind him.

Jim has found a comfortable distance from the fire to settle down at, where stray fairy sparks aren't likely to play their /fickle/ little dance into his Personal Space. It's the /thought that counts/ for a tree devoted to sobriety, Jim wistfully watching Hive pours his tribute amongst his roots. There's a lot of Hive-watching, his behavior towards the fire, his meandering, << Y'alright? >> Asked slowly; as though the question has some tall inner summit it must climb before it can be expressed.

<< An' you can tell Jackie 'back at you, sparkles'. Shit. Between his fire illusions and these city brats in the country I feel like I just gagged down a whole sheet of fucking acid. >> Oh, hello there little Ivan. Crreeaaaakkkk (clutter clutter, the sound of bark flakes falling loose and tumbling down his body.) << Yeap, he's swarming alright. Christ. >> Unconcerned, is the man with no flesh to /bite/. << You see this kid, Hivey? Calm as a god damn cucumber. Don't know if that makes him the best guy to be covered in murderbugs or the worst. You'd think the latter, the way everyone's carrying on. >> He /twitches/ the side of his mouth at Ivan, dropping his head in some semblance of nod. And hey, he'll toss out a hand. Gimme some bug, bro. What'chu got.

“OhGod,” Peter announces, /staring/ at one of the Jimberries in horror when Sebastian announces that it is, indeed, made of /people/. But then, his nose wrinkles for a few moments -- he glances at Sebastian, Shane, then back at Jim -- and, with a final /flex/ of his brows, he opens his mouth and -- CHOMP. Closing his eyes a little before he chews. Hm... well, okay. This doesn’t seem to be too bad. Eyes open a little, as if to silently exclaim ‘Thumbs Up’.

Then, Peter’s /peering/ at all of the pretty lights Jax is producing, all the while throwing askance glances toward Ivan to make sure he isn’t going to -- well, /explode/ into a barrage of fire ants. Also /maybe/ sneaking a hand toward the small of Shane’s back. Very stealthily. And sneakily. And: “Y’know, Ivan, I don’t /think/ you should -- bring those back with you.” As if he has already /seen/ where this is going. “Just, uh... ‘cuz, um. Fire ants are -- what if they got... actually would they even /survive/ in New York?” he asks, suddenly wondering.

<< Carrying on, >> Hive grouches back at Jim, << implies some kind of histrionics. Everyone /else/ is being perfectly rational; the kid is a fucking /idiot/ covered in fucking /fire ants/. He's calm because he's a gorram idiot who doesn't /know/ they're dangerous. >> And then, in case his opinion isn't clear: << Worst. Genetics sadly doesn't dole out powers based on any kind of prudence. I mean. Look at -- fuck. All of us. >> "We'd get kicked off the fucking train anyway," he volunteers aloud, on the matter of Bringing Fire Ants To New York. He offers the spiked tea out to Micah at the nudge. It is not surreptitiously spiked; it smells extraordinarily rummy. “Gonna be singing. Free of charge, too. Lucky us. People back home pay through the nose for this shit and we get a private show.” << Fine, >> he answers Jim, a little sharply. And then, at a delay: << all be going back in the morning. >>

Ivan siiidles up to a Jim to stare, unadulterated fascination clear across his expression as he scans that treeface, body and limbs. The glance he then throws Peter is brief, but promptly /rife/ with sadness and deep, deep disappointment. "But if I keep them safe. And /you/ safe," seems Peter did know where it was going, "I can. Do it." His indecisive mutterings end when there is suddenly a Jimhand in front of him. His own ant-riddled hand reaches for it without question, maybe just to touch that strange bark arm.

But then he stops. His hand hovers an inch away, so that he can-- look to Jackson, eyebrows raised slightly, through hints of that sadness still clinging. Like a /kicked puppy/. As if to ask for permission. For ants? Or for touching bagels and lox tree man arm. Either. Both.

Shelby either booked it or the guitar was nearby. Probably the former because /music/. When she reappears in the circle of light cast by the bonfire, she has Ryan’s guitar and her ukelele. Again: because /music/. The larger instrument is dropped off with the headlining musician and then she veers to curl up on the periphery of the kid zone, on the adult side. Tuning begins. It is jangly. Plucka plucka. “...what’d I miss?” she stage whispers to the twins, a cautious eye fixed on Ivan.

“Sorry,” Jackson apologizes, and while one hand squeezes around Ryan’s waist his other turns palm-up in a helpless gesture. “Fire ants /is/ kinda too dangerous, the school administration wouldn’t allow ‘em even if I did. They’re gonna hafta stay back here. New York probably ain’t as great a climate for ‘em as Georgia nohow.” The free hand drops, fingertips brushing in lazy mussing through Micah’s hair as he opens up for marshmallow-receiving. “Woahey, want some tea with your rum there?” His tone sounds amused. The thought underlying it less so, quiet questioning sentiment: drinking for enjoyment or drinking for escape?

“Jesus fucking Christ, dude, of course you’re not bringing a swarm of fucking fire ants back to school do you seriously need to ask that.” Shane is probably rolling his eyes, but it’s hard to tell without pupils. He was gearing up to throw a marshmallow at Micah but now he aims it at Ivan instead -- or at least he starts to, though before actually flicking it he takes a glance at FIRE ANTS and apparently reconsiders. Nose wrinkling, he narrows his eyes back in Micah’s direction. FLICK. “Hive got naked and danced around the bonfire,” he answers Shelby. His weight resettles slightly into Peter’s hand at his back.

“We’re all getting naked and dancing around the bonfire,” Bastian adds lightly. He is making a s’more, now, though when it is assembled he breaks off a goopy melty-marshmallow warm-soft-chocolate piece and offers the mouthful to Shelby. Because handsfull with ukelele.

“... We are?” Daiki sounds slightly skeptical.

There /might/ just be a brief /pinch/ at Shane’s back when he tells Ivan about the fire-ants. Courtesy of PETER. It’s quickly followed by Peter’s voice: “Dude, wait until you graduate and have, like, a house full of terrariums or something I mean -- you can’t have -- /all/ the bugs, Ivan. Not yet, we’re -- kinda running out of /room/.” At Daiki’s question, Peter looks all-sorts-of flustered, and immediately responds: “We are /not/.”

<< Can't stay here forever. >> Jim answers Hive grimly; bizarrely it's Shelby on his mind, watching the girl take her perch from the vantage of a mind that is both here... and not. The proceedings of this fiery pagan ritual slow in registration and paid a deep, long span of thoughts that paint each individual face and personality in its own glacier-slow preservation. (Meaning if - if a marshmallow dinks off his head he probably won't /notice/ for a while. Slow Blink.) << Don't belong here. /That/ fucking city... >> He possibly tries to convey some camp concept like 'home' but the path leads to char and ash.

Instead, it's just stupid thoughts; harassing Jax for his /sub-par/ god damn non-dairy creamer that always leaves that /skim/ on either the top of his coffee or the bottom. Or the twins climbing over one another, Shane so eager to get in front as though Sebastian might need a buffer when his arrival comes. Hive in some cheap second-hand wedding dress against a vandalized city wall. Shelby in gaudy urban princess gear, stretched out across the Alice in Wonderland statues of Central Park.

<< Man, who /doesn't/ wish they could have everything they wanted, Mr. Hungry Mind. >> It's - actually warmly said, /fiercely/. << These're our battles. >> He shrugs at Ivan like 'not my call, kid' about the ants. Though one barky brow /twitches/ up at Peter's more hopeful addition. But hey. He'll take some ants in the mean time. His fingers twitch impatiently at Ivan like 'what's the hold up. Let's see 'em.'

Micah has to scuttle backwards a little bit and tilt his head quite a bit /more/ to catch the second marshmallow missile, but he manages! Jax gets a head-bonk in the arm in the process. It may or may not have been 100% deliberate. “Thf—“ Dammit, marshmallow strikes again! Mushmushswallow. “Thank you for not throwin’ things at Ivan, that would be a spectacularly bad idea. An’,” hazel eyes shoot open wide at a thought, “oh/gosh/ fire ants plus molten sugar plus naked dancin’ people sounds like a recipe for unpleasantness in the extreme.” He does accept the tea from Hive to wash some of the sugar out of his throat—one swig before it is handed right back. “Whoa there, Cap’n, he wasn’t kiddin’ about the rum.”

“Jim put enough roots down for everyone. Plus, I hate camping.” Okay, so it’s rural civilization, but more importantly in the South: epitome of all Ryan has generally come to hate. It brings out the prissy rockstar New York warped him into since his time there. When Shelby delivers the guitar case, he pushes it back in her direction. “Why don’t you tune it up and start us off. I’m not belting out anything more than the ABC’s until I at /least/ get a fifty dollar connection from all these freeloaders.”

Setting the instrument down beside him for Shelby to reclaim, he wraps his arm around Jax in an embrace - nope, he’s doing a reach-over to snatch the rum-laced-with-tea from Micah before he returns it to the telepath.

“Ain’t nothin’ that can lift Hive’s mood, but a little rum to wet my whistle’ll warm me up for a performance,” he explains (and if not, there’s always AUTOTUNE).

“Sadly, I think if your pa said no to the pot, he’d /definitely/ object to some bacchanalian ritual around the fire.” In the nude. This makes Ryan frown. He loves orgiastic activities.

Hive? Naked? Orly. Shelby /knows/ Shane is kidding and /still/ she glances in Hive’s direction, interest piqued--and mind supplying the images, when reality falls short. Fooled, damnit. So her brain tosses in a feather boa and a seductive dance as she goes back to tuning the--ohshit, the guitar? “Dude,” she grumbles, but the instrument is removed from its case (the much smaller ukelele set in its place) and arranged in her lap.

“We just gotta wait for them to pass out,” she remarks, on the subject of naked dancing and adult disapproval. “I’m game, so long’s Ivan keeps the mosquitos and ticks and shit offa us.”

Then her fingers begin dancing over the strings, picking out something soft and slow and bluegrassy. Shelby is /not/ singing along because no one’s paying her. With money /or/ booze. Also because melty marshmallows are being offered, prompting her to lean over with mouth open so that Bastian can insert them, without once breaking stride in her geetar-pickin’.

That’s talent, right there.

Ivan stands, eyes darting left and right- Jackson, Shane, Peter, Rasa... somewhat thoughtfully at Micah, and then Shane again. Whatever input he may have had left, he keeps it to himself as the conversation moves on.

Little is left of the sadness on his face when he sits down next to next to Jim with a little more /weight/ to the action than necessary, touches his fingers Jim's older, flakier barkskin, and leads a writhing mass of red and brown into the man's hand and forearm. Once there's a sufficient number on there - two hundred, give or take - they just /cease to move/, twitchtwitching their antennae. Militant little things. Ivan focuses his attention solely on /them/.

Jackson /elbows/ Ryan in the side. “/Camping/ oh my gosh this is my home you’re giving us a whole concert for that. Anyway. Y’all can dance naked around the fire if you /want/, there’s nothing illegal ‘bout /that/ but don’t blame me if it spits embers on sensitive skin.” He gives Micah another absent head-rub for the arm-bonking. “-- I mean, don’t none of those things sound terrible taken on their own.” He’s eying Micah very /contemplatively/. Hmmhmm. The fire grows silhouette-images of dancing people. Probably naked! But they’re sculpted more or less out of firelight, so as risque goes it is not -- very. The images in his /head/ perhaps moreso, though.

“I’ll wet your whistle for you,” Shane offers to Ryan with a sharptoothed flash of grin. "Ahh," this is at Peter's pinch, although it shifts immediately into, "-- why aren't we? Fires are /for/ dancing around."

"I think it was the naked part that was the catch," Bastian answers. He's breaking off a second piece of meltywarm s'more to give to Shelby.

"Why not?" Shane wants to know, again. "It's warm. And everyone here's hot. -- Woah score!" He might just have noticed the marshmallow-goal. Even if it was more Micah's work than his own. He plucks at the hem of Peter's shirt. "Want to get naked and dance around the fire?"

Sebastian just smiles at this, poking more marshmallows onto sticks to continue his and Daiki's s'more's-operation. But his mind is also flitting with happy images of naked firelight dancing.

Shane glances to Shelby. "Bet I know how to lift Hive's mood," he adds, in lighter singsong. "Just, uh, speaking of whistle-wetting."

Ohgosh, the little buggers are on the /move/. Micah scoots a little further away from Tree-Jim…okay, coincidentally closer to Jax…whatever. There are head scritchings involved here. “Oh, no…just the /combination/ that’s the concern. Imagination does tend to wander.” The bridge of his nose crinkles with giggling at Shane, impressed with his own aim as the boy is. He even offers his marshmallow teammate some silent applause—silent so as not to interrupt Shelby’s playing, of course. Not that he isn’t still giggling because Shane continues his incorrigible yet entertaining act.

<< Everything we wanted, >> Hive echoes this to Jim sharp and kind of dry. Kind of irritable. << This isn’t -- >> This cuts off, and he scrubs his knuckles against his eyes, watching Ryan commandeer his booze. << I didn’t mean -- >> But he doesn’t clarify this further. He just returns to staring into the fire. To Jackson there is a /press/ of his mind, a return of sentiment to answer sentiment: enjoyment, escape, he is finding it hard to make that /distinction/ at the moment. “Sure,” he says aloud. “Fuck it. Dancing.” Look. He is STRIPPING OFF HIS SHIRT. He tosses it -- onto Micah’s head. Because that seems to be where things are getting TOSSED at the moment.

With all the music, all the reverie, this corner of plants and bugs is primal-slow and removed. Jim's mind, tectonic slow, is stretched out in long yawning thoughts difficult to read for the smeary-motion lines they take to move from one to the next, making whatever opinion he has of Hive's response obscure, detached. His arm makes subtle inner creaking noises; branch-squealing where plant fiber is so slightly fleshy-elastic, to allow movement, turning over his arm gradually to watch the tide of ants pour over him. His face is... appropriately /perplexed/ about what to do about his visitors. Treebark makes for a very hefty neanderthal-brow furrowing. Sloooooow furrow. Slooooooow rotation. Sloooooow raising of unevenly squinted eyes to Ivan.

Then another gradual motion. He raises a hand. And gives Thumbs Up. Most obedient ants /he's/ ever seen. A+. Would be swarmed again.

With a mouth full of S’more, there’s no way Shelby can pop off back at Shane but there /might/ be a rising hint of color in her cheeks as she flicks a glance Hivewards. << ...shirt’s coming off, looks like he’s got the mood thing himself. >> And because there is a movement towards dancing, she picks up the pace of the song. Something...jiggier. A jig that the fire figures join in on, though she’s careful to keep them /in/ the fire--but once Jax has made ‘em, she’s not shy about yanking control over to match the higher energy rhythm of the music pouring from the guitar.

“Shut up,” she finally says after some rapid swallowing--making this the worst. Comeback. Ever. “Why aren’t /you/ naked yet?”

When Shane starts picking at Peter’s shirt, Peter’s eyes get /wiiide/. There’s maybe a half-way unfinished s’moar in his mouth that he’s struggling to swallow as he rapidly shakes his head, trying to dislodge the sticky treat from his throat. “Nnmnot--” Gulp. “Dude are you kidding your--” Peter’s eyes flicker toward Jackson, his voice dropping /much/ lower: “--/dad’s/ here--” Apparently having not heard Jackson announce that he is okay with this. And then Hive is taking off his shirt and, Peter’s just. WHAT. Staring. “...please tell me he’s not actually getting -- oh, man,” he says, plopping his face into his hands. “Oh, man. My fragile teenage mind is not /ready/ to see everybody naked.”

“No thanks, Shamu, looks like crab-boy right there has his own private SeaWorld Show,” Ryan snarks at Shane. Chitin, crab, same thing to Ryan - he never got too far in school. Grunting as an elbow digs into his side he casts a side-glance at Jackson, guarding the swirling booze in his glass from spilling over onto the ground. “Hey, watch it!” Drink endangerment gives him the impetus to /stand/ - for, well, okay not to protect his stolen rum and tea. He hands that back to Micah.

He was just waiting for someone to start the strip-show, because he yanks his shirt over his head and tosses it at Hive, then closes in on Shelby bending down near her for the ukelele. So he’s just lazy and didn’t want to bigger instrument. Also he’s doing her a favor since he picks up backup, fingers strumming as he joins in on her jigger-jive, a seamless addition to the music.

“Yeah, and my dad is /totally hot/ I sure wouldn’t mind if he got naked, I mean, c’mon, tattoos look amazing in firelight,” Shane cheerfully tells Peter.

Daiki just squeezes his eyes shut, and starts nibbling on a s’more of his own.

“-- but if it makes you uncomfortable people won’t be getting /totally/ naked OKAY PEOPLE,” this is a little louder to the group as a whole. Eeeeven as Shane is peeling off his own shirt. “But there’s /still/ going to be dancing.” He doesn’t, at least, take off anything /more/ than his shirt. He just slings arms around Peter and Daiki both, teeth glinting oddly orange in the dancing firelight as he listens to the music start to play.