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Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Dramatis Personae

Ducky, Lia, Nom

5 May 2014

Don't eat the birds.


<XS> Conservatory

Tall panes of glass keep this large indoor garden warm year round. Tended to by the school's groundskeeper, the conservatory is lush with plant life, a carefully cultivated paradise within Xavier's walls. The room serves as a classroom as well; in the center of the garden a ring of seats forms a small circle, a favorite locale for some teachers to hold court.

It's a pleasant evening, after dinner has wrapped up for the night, and students have dispersed throughout the campus for whatever students care to do in the evenings. The evening is warm and pleasant, the sun setting and sending a brilliant golden orange color on the glass of the conservatory.

In the after-dinner lull, Ducky has opted to retreat to the conservatory, setting herself up in a little cleared area in a corner to attempt to study. She has laid out on the ground, one hand holding her chin as she focuses on her studying. A large science text - biology, from the looks of it - is open in front of her where she has flopped, a spiral bound notebook flipped open to a page of notes that is holding her attention. She's dressed casually, a pair of dark jeans and a long bright blue vest top over a golden-yellow long sleeve top, her sandals abandoned to the side so her bare feet can kick back and forth slowly in concentration. Perhaps oddest about the scene is the little dappled gray and white pigeon currently nestled into her messy sandy blonde hair, staring down at the same book that Ducky is. Or perhaps it is the small horde of varied birds perched on various parts of the windows, all staring at the young girl and her studying.

Lia is looking appropriate for the warm day and sunset hour in a sundress tye-dyed to achieve a sunset effect in reds and oranges with splashes of accent electric blue and deep violet. A little white three-quarter length cardigan is thrown on over the top against the creeping evening chill. A recycled corduroy messenger bag with multicolour owls on it hangs off her side heavily due to the textbooks within weighing it down. Her feet are bare as she intermittently walks, then skips, on her way into the conservatory. A smile blooms across her features upon seeing Ducky and her birds. "Princess Ducky, hello!" she calls, bouncing closer.

What cruel fate! The girl has a little garden box with her. Right now, Nom seems to be intent on nurting a small box of pepper plants. The expression she shows is nothing short of absolutely pleased with herself... At least until she wanders in on a girl studying and surrounded by many birds. In fact, the birds look delicious to her. As do most living things. Then again, most animals aren't exactly overwhelmingly comfortable around her since she tends to be the predator at the top of most food chains. She opens her mouth to point at one and say... something.

Then Lia arrives, and Nom is left with a different sight. She practically skips across the grass, despite her impractical shoes,"SO MANY BIRDS ALL THE BIRDS OH MY GOD." Yes. Her totally sane, calm reaction.

Ducky and her pigeon look up simultaneously at Lia's greeting, blinking several times before smiling cheerily. "Hiya, Lia," Ducky says, shifting to sit up a bit more, tugging her legs under her to sit cross-legged. The pigeon in her hair nestles down into her hair further, regarding the two newcomers uncertainly, but rather decidedly staying put on Ducky. She doesn't even bother to correct the princess title, just giggling instead. A handful of the birds outside the conservatory walls take wing, though a handful of crows and starlings stay put, along with at least one somewhat disgruntled looking goose. "Yes. Many many birds. They kinda sorta tend to follow me a bit, usually not when I'm inside, but sometimes when I'm out here and they can see me, they still find me." Ducky explains, grinning in amusement, resting her hands on her bare feet as she sits up on the grass, studying forgotten for now. Something makes her look curiously at Nom, tilting her head to the side in confusion, before looking out at the birds who are ruffling themselves up to look larger.

"How are you? Are you studying? I came out to study because I wanted /sun/ and my roommate never wants any light in all the room /ever/. It is not so easy to do math in the dark." Lia's hand taps against her messenger bag to indicate there might be some homework in there. Her eyes widen, big brown deer-like things, as Nom bounds closer. The excited bird exclamation seems to put her more at ease somehow, however. "Yes! So many birds. Ducky is a princess so they like her very much. Except your goose looks grumpy. Did she not like your singing?" Lia drops to the ground rather gracefully, settling on her knees, her skirts floofing out around her just-so she looks rather like a bright flower against the grass.

That's behavior Nom understands. When she was feral, she did it once or twice herself. Being able to eat other predators is not quite the same as throwing oneself at every dangerous thing that crosses one's path, after all. The reaction is nearly immediate. She seems to almost swell herself as she looks at the birds. Her smile widens in a way that shows off her very large teeth. More threatening than happy. A rictus, almost. And that crocodile rumble that roils in the back of her throat-

A moment later, Nom's feral reaction is fading from her eyes. Like and good socially inept person, she tries to deal with her embarrassment by ignoring she ever did anything weird in the first place. "They pretty! Big birds! So many big bird! All the big bird." She eyes that Goose in that... special way of hers. The 'that would probably be tasty to eat' way, but instead turns to setting her garden box down so she can get some planting done,"Princess Ducky! QUACK. DUCK." She points at the goose,"Goose honk!" She points at herself,"Nom!"

"Yeah. Studying for a quiz later this week in my marine biology class. And getting a head start on the studying for finals and stuff," Ducky agrees and nods, flipping her notebook closed - the front is covered in doodles of various water fowl in a rainbow of gel-pen colors. "Goose is kinda a bit on the grumpy side. He's not really having any luck finding a lady friend goose," she explains, glancing over her shoulder at the lone disgruntled goose, "So he kinda just grumps around where I go when outside. I'm not the kinda singing he wants to hear, and no one really likes his singing, apparently." In response to the swelling and growl from Nom, more of Ducky's flock outside flee, leaving only a large raven, a small starling, and the goose remaining outside the windows, all three of them puffing up and posturing like a trio of bodyguards behind glass. Ducky looks confused, and perhaps a little bit scared, as she pulls her books a little closer to her, closing them up and keeping her eyes focused on Nom. "Hi... Nom. Nice to meet you. I'm, um, I'm Ducky," she introduces herself, looking a little bit uncertain about her safety, even after Nom goes back to babbling cheerily. The dappled pigeon on her head shuffles down Ducky's head and nestles right up against her neck, clinging to the collar of her shirt in an attempt to hide.

"Wow...marine biology sounds /fancy/. I am still taking fairly basic classes. My math is middle school, but I should be able to do the real math by next class if I finish this one well." Lia looks appropriately impressed by Ducky's science book. "You draw pretty," she adds when she sees the pictures on the front of the other girl's notebook. "Oh, oh, apologies, Mr. Gander! You are not a girly goose at all, no no." Her head bows very slightly to the goose. "He doesn't think /you/ are a lady goose, does he?" This might warrant a little giggle. Though Nom's growling interrupts the laughter smartly, the small girl sinking down behind her bag a bit as if the patchwork owls on it will protect her. Again, the strange girl's talking seems to calm her over time. "Nom? That is your name? It /means/ name. In French, doesn't it? Hm." Already she's back to looking amused. "I am Lia."

Nom is quite calm now that her primacy has been established. Having sort of deflated now, she is mostly intent on her gardening... though she swaggers about as much as someone sitting down can. She can't resist the urge to stick her tongue out at the goose. Nyyyyaaaa. Then she's sniffing off wilted leaves. Her hand forms a shovel-like apparatus while she views the ground of the conservatory for what she HOPES is a nice plot. "Nom! Like sound when eat! Nomnomnomnomnom! See?" She fishes around in a pocket until she retrieves her bag of ever-present beef-jerky, and dumps some in her mouth. For a change, she takes her time chewing.

"You am Ducky, you am Lia, me am Nom!" As if she hadn't said it before. "You has bird in you hair." She peeks over at Lia then, an eye poking free on a stalk for a moment before slapping back into her skull. "French. Le bon temps roule."

"I like the science stuff like this. S'kinda what I want to go on and study eventually, 'cause it means I can help birds and the environment. So. Science!" Ducky giggles to Lia, and shakes her head quickly, "No, no. Birds don't think of me like that. Thankfully. They all think I'm kinda a broken bird, cause I can't fly. Just tend to talk to me, about troubles. It's just all that sorta trouble this time of year." She looks confusedly at Nom, and the sudden shift in behavior. The goose responds to being taunted with a ruffled hiss, decidedly grumping, before finally taking wing and flying back towards the lake. She nods slowly in response to Nom's observation about her pigeon, "It happens. A lot. Kushi is usually with me." She reaches up to pet the bird's head with a few fingers, making it obvious she was referring to the bird.

"I... I should probably be going. Sort of need to get back to studying. Probably away from birds, I get kinda bird-brained when I'm out here for too long," She glances to Lia and Nom, offering a nervous smile, ruffling her hair to fluff up the spot her pigeon had been hiding, before tucking her books back into her bright yellow backpack. "S'nice to meet you, Nom. Good to see you, Lia. I kinda gotta go. More studying to be done and stuff like that," she ruffles her hair again, looking a bit worried about the nom-nomming and her bird's reactions. "Have a good evening!" She shuffles off towards the main part of the school building, the last of the birds leaving as soon as she moves away from the windows.

"Mmn. I like dancing. And music. And hand-talking. And making sculptures. Science seems hard. But the pictures are pretty!" Lia giggles again at the thought of the gander courting Ducky. "Oh, poor Ducky, they must think. More of a Penguin-y. Ostrich-y. Emu-y Kiwi-y. Okay, no, those all sound bizarre." The slim girl jumps at the goose's hiss, though she is soon laughing again as the bird flies off. "What a grumpy face!" She nods at Ducky as the other girl moves to leave. "Good to see you. Studying is very important. It is good not to be distracted sometimes. Have a good night!"

Lia's head tilts at Nom. "Oh, NOM. Like the lolcats. Omnom." Her tone is a /little/ too academic for the topic at hand, really. "She /is/ Ducky. I /am/ Lia. You /are/ Nom," she corrects helpfully once she understands. "You have to conjugate verbs in English. 'To be' is just...irregular." She looks confused at the French for a moment, clearly translating the literal meaning in her head, a nod, a glance at her wrist where a watch /could/ be, then her fingers subtly circling one another. "Oh. /Oh/. Laissez les bons temps rouler. Calque. Cajun. Funny French." She titters softly at this, apparently in both a grammatical and easily-amused mood this evening.

Nom frowns a little bit as she watches Ducky go, then wiggles her fingers upon watching her and her birds depart,"But... BUT..." She pouts a Ducky goes, leaving her to wave,"Me didn't get to eat any birds." She makes her 'never been fed, ever' face, and then starts digging so she can begin planting her peppers,"Ostriches. So ugly they cute." She wrestles with conjugation for a brief moment...

"I am kn- I are know that. I just... I are hearing better than speaking. Brain-stuff." But then, the girl is talking about pictures, and she begins to clap her hands excitedly,"Yes! Very pretty pictures! Pictures of birds, and dancing, and music, and food! Like cooking! Cook all the time! Cajun food!" Pause. "Cajun. Why I know that?" She puzzles over that for a long moment, but nods once more in excitement,"Like silly cats! Go lols all time. Stupid kitty. That not how you use computer." She hops up, gardening forgotten for the moment, and holds out her bag of jerky.

"No, Nom. Ducky's birds are not for eating. They are like pets. Cats and dogs and horses?" Lia's fingers toy with the hem of her dress, spreading it out delicately. "Though there are birds in the woods when there isn't a Ducky. I know there are people who hunt. Maybe you could hunt, too? Find a goose that /isn't/ Ducky's friend." Her nose crinkles slightly as she smiles. "Ostriches /are/ cute. They're so /fluffy/." Lia nods understanding at Nom's clarification. "Oh, I apologise. I thought you were learning English as a second language. But your head got hurt. That makes sense." She pulls her pre-algebra text out of her bag, laying it on her lap. That's like doing homework, right? "Oh, cooking! I am not good at cooking. I can make tea and cocoa and noodles. I made cupcakes once but they crunched. They were glittery, though. There is a cooking club and they are going to teach me better cooking, Mr. Fairyjax said." Her head tilts to one side, birdlike. "Cajun food... Do you like spicy? Or maybe you are from Louisiana? New Orleans? Like Marie Grace and Cecile Rey." Lia might have consumed everything to do with American Girl dolls ever. She takes a small piece of jerky and nibbles at it tentatively, clearly not familiar with this as a food.

"How me tell difference? No need sorry. Not obvious." Nom scooches over to where Lia gazes at her pre-algebra text with not one whit of comprehension in her eyes,"Me am still pick up read. Small words only. Signs easier. Speaking hard because... so much keep in mind." She clenches and unclenches her fingers for a moment in frustration, then decides to go back to chewing on her jerky,"You am learn more bake! Me teach! You make wrong, me eat anyway! Me like everything." She shrugs to the girl though,"Me am... Me not know. Me like Cajun food... Me have spicy jerky!" Language consistency is a battle right now. "What is Marie Grace and Cecile Rey!"

"Um...don't eat birds if Ducky is around, maybe? And also Kushi. Never eat Kushi." Lia nods solemnly for emphasis. "Oh, this is not words. This is math with letters. Probably that would be confusing for now." She waves dismissively at the textbook. "Would you prefer to sign? I like hand-talking." Lia translates to ASL as she speaks. "Hee, I would like to bake! You don't have to eat anything that is too yucky, though. We bought /stunt/ cupcakes to make up for the crunchy ones and the rubbery ones we made for Mr. Fairyjax. Those were much better." Again, the small girl nods understanding. "You have trouble remembering you, too? I have trouble remembering me. The keepers in the rooms...the labs. They took me away when I was small and I have trouble remembering me." She smiles at the repetition of the names. "They are American Girls. There are dolls...I don't have many of /those/ dolls because they are expensive! But they make books and movies all about them and I read and watch them /all/. All about how they grew up all through the history of the United States."

"I be able tell which bird are Kushi how? Kushi tiny one on head? It always there?" She nods seriously though, as if Lia is somehow imparting words of the utmost import. "I not understand much sign yet. You do it and talk. Me learn that way. Not fingerspell though. Use same brain part as ready-part." She shrugs helplessly at Lia, then leans over the textbook for a moment,"It okay. Me can eat all. Nothing go to waste. Me am get six kitchen visits. Not count if it am throwaway." That's right. She likes to eat the screw-ups. "Me get bullet in brain. Memory go bye-bye. Remember how do some stuff. Episodic go bye bye." She taps her temple helplessly. "You use phone show me dolls?" She certainly SEEMS curious! "Then you show me dance sometime." She thinks on some of the other issues, though,"They break you brain too? You nice. Me not think you broken. You know history good."

"Oh...huh. Yes, Kushi does seem to stay around Ducky all the time. So I guess the 'don't eat birds around Ducky' rule will do. Since Kushi is around Ducky." Another firm nod proclaims this ruling good. Lia continues to sign at Nom's request, though it is impossible to communicate /completely/ free of finger-spelling with it. "You only get to go to the kitchen six times? That seems silly. I am allowed to go whenever I want. You let me know if you need things from the kitchen sometimes, then." Her dark little brows knit at the report of the shooting. "I'm sorry someone hurt you. I am not sure...if I can't remember me because of the keepers or if it came from before. Because I can't remember me. But they did hurt me a lot. Over and over." Lia's fingers pause in their signing to trace over the many scars spiderwebbing across all the visible skin on her arms and legs. "I remember lots of things well, as long as they don't have to do with me? My therapist says that I have autobiographical amnesia. And sometimes I confuse stories to fill up the holes." That technical term sounds very much like it is being repeated by rote.

Nom smiles at this,"Then I will not eat birds near Ducky. Or eat something else when can. It just... birds crunchy. Like chips. Me are like chips." She is soon on her feet in an oddly boneless manner of rising. "I not get full ever. I can eat whole kitchen. Leave nothing for anyone. That why six. Me am sorry someone hurt YOU though! You want me am eat them?" Like eating people she doesn't like is no big deal. Weird. "Me heal just fine. You not worry about Nom." She reaches out to pat the girl on her shoulder,"Me am have episodic amnesia. Me not remember who I am. Remember how do most things, though." She takes a laminated notecard from her pocket, then writes with a dry erase marked: Nom, one of her easier words. Then she makes a namesign, N and M in a chomping motion. "So you not forget me." She pushes the card at Lia. "I go sleep now. Big day tomorrow. Lots of learny. I see you round here, yespls?"

"That sounds like a good plan. They often have chicken in the kitchens and no one eats the bones. Maybe they could let you have those? For crunching." Lia doesn't really have a strange-meter, apparently. "Yes, I suppose we do have to leave food for the other students. Mr. Fairyjax and his people took me from the keepers. I remember things better...since then. Still not as well as I should. But better than when I was with the keepers. And /much/ better than...whatever may have been before that. I don't remember a before that. So there isn't anyone to eat just now, I don't think." There is a delighted giggle to answer Nom's namesign, clearly tickled by it. She accepts the card, though with gentle protest. "I will not forget /you/. Sleep is good. I should have you meet my dolls. Sometime when Shadowgirl is not in the room and I can open a window or turn on a light. Also, it is better when she is not there, I think. She likes to scare people and picks me up when I tell her not to." Her nose crinkles a bit, but this doesn't last long, a smile soon replacing it. "Yes, much more learning tomorrow. I should actually /do/ my homework before it gets dark out. Sleep well!"