"N... no, can't argue with those results."
<NYC> Chimaera Arts - DUMBO
This is just one of the many abandoned warehouses in DUMBO, and like many of them it has recently changed hands. /Unlike/ most of those, however, it does not have some corporate developer's sign out front promising a transformation into luxury condominiums or a boutique shopping center or the latest concept restaurant. Instead it's marked by a piece of weathered but wildly colorful plywood propped up on a stack of broken pallets, which reads "Chimaera Art Space!" above "chimaera.org" in smaller letters.
The warehouse is moderately large and decorated with graffiti art in various styles--some of it recognizable as the work of renowned local street artists. A pair of monstrous scrap metal sculptures, perhaps still works in progress, flank the entrance. The building itself has undergone significant renovation recently, complete with wiring, plumbing, and a modular partitioning system. The grounds, too, have been cleaned up, ramshackle fences torn down and rusting detritus removed in favor of reclaimed (and brilliantly repainted) outdoor furniture ringing an impressively engineered firepit.
It's been an unseasonably cool afternoon, and though clouds gathered as as the day wore on, on the rain has thus far held off. Colorful mismatched partitions separate out one quarter of the warehouse into a classroom today, and the ventilation fans are hard at work to keep the air in it breathable and while a dozen people paint together beneath bright lights for the duration of the lesson. The actual class has concluded, the students filing out in small groups, chatting animatedly about what they've learned and what projects they hope to tackle next.
Steve was detained by a couple of fellow students who wanted to thank him for his service, but once he escaped their attention, he lingered to clean up his own workspace. He doesn't look much the war hero today, casually dressed in a red-and-black flannel half-unbuttoned over a plain white tee, fitted blue jeans, and...well, he /is/ wearing combat boots, at least. Bringing his borrowed supplies to the communal table at the front, he approaches his instructor. "Thank you, I learned so much." He glances around the classroom, then eyes the open doorway out to the rest of the warehouse. "Can I help clean up, or tear down? I'm not sure how much of this needs to go away, or where."
"Oh!" At the front of the room, Jax has been busy gently washing paint out of a large jar full of paintbrushes. Helooks up, his single eye widening as his cheeks flush darken. He's something of a mess, his faded old denim overalls (hanging on one shoulder, the other flap unbuttoned and hanging loose) liberally paint-flecked, as is the black t-shirt beneath (the beginnings of some rainbow lettering can be read in large print across the chest, WRA--, the last couple letters hidden beneath the overalls' flap.) He half-turns from the sink where he's been standing when Steve approaches him, shaking vividly fire-engine-red hair back from his face. "I'm glad! That you learned. I mean. That it was helpful. I mean, I try to keep it -- not boring. Useful. Wait, that's not the question, you asked a question /sorry/ um -- basically all this needs to go away. These classrooms get used for different things constantly. After us it's protest safety. Oh -- gosh sorry I should shut up and /show/ you. Where. Things go." He looks down at the brushes in his wet and soapy hands, brows creasing and his lip catching in his teeth.
Steve nods. Then nods again. Then blinks, his cheeks flushing faintly in sympathy with his instructor's. Finally nods again, smiling brightly. "Oh, it was definitely not boring! I enjoyed it." He pauses a beat. "The class, I mean. And your teaching." He rubs at a spot of paint on his forearm, exposed by rolled-up sleeves. "But um, please, take your time -- unless we need to hurry!" He tilts his head to one side. "Protest safety? What's that about? I didn't read about the other classes in depth, I'm afraid." He runs a hand through his hair, which had remained relatively unmussed so far. "The website was a bit...confusing, and Flicker had to walk me through signing up."
"Well, it was real good to have you, you got a good eye. An' we got time, no rush, folks won't be here till evening." Jax waves a hand in dismissal -- still holding a pair of paintbrushes, some kind-of-soapy, kind-of-painty water sprinkles out over Steve. Blushing again, he lifts damp knuckles to press to his mouth. "Oh! Sorry, I --" His head ducks as he turns back to the sink to finish cleaning the bristles out. "/Sorry/. Yeah our website's a bit of a. Jumble. Mess. Thing. I'm glad you got help with it, I can't figure it myself half the time. I get my kid to help when I gotta put my class schedule in. /Um/ oh there's just -- people are planning a bunch of things for May Day, there'll be a thing in here this evening on staying safe an' healthy if you're gonna be out in the streets. Doing -- marches or..." Jax's teeth click against a lip ring. "Anything else."
Steve doesn't seem much fazed by being asperged with soapy paint brunshes. Just mops his face with a sleeve. "It's alright, I won't melt." Grins bright, if briefly, then shakes his head. "Oh, I'd probably have managed to get lost even if your website were perfectly maintained. I'm still on the ah, way up /that/ particular learning curve." He leans against the wall, crosses his arms. "I'm glad to hear it. About May Day, I mean. Seemed to me like the labor movement's..." His lips press into a thin, unhappy line. "Some folks talk about it like it's as much ancient history as /I/ am. Not that it wasn't a struggle in my day, but the unions were a lot stronger." His smile here is both fond and wan, his eyes distant for a moment. "We probably could have used some classes about staying safe and healthy, though."
"I did get you a little green, though." Jax finishes his rinsing carefully, setting the brushes down in a separate jar than the ones that have yet to be cleaned. "Ancient?" He flicks water from his hands into the sink, turning back around with wide eye again. "Oh, right, I guess you /are/ --" His cheeks have turned nearly as red as his hair, and he wrinkles up his nose. "Sorry, I didn't -- right, um, it's just, easy to forget cuz you're so -- um." One hand flutters towards Steve's -- everything. "/Sorry/. There's still a labor movement, it's just. It could use some love. The biggest unions is kind of just in it for the money and then there's us anarchist commie types trying to..." His weight shifts to one side, hip resting against the sink edge. "Keep people safe in the streets, I guess! /Get/ people into the streets. What was it like in the, um," he's kind of wincing /even/ as he says it, "ancient history?"
Steve's eyebrows go up slightly. "Wait -- did you -- do you know /Wizard of Oz/?" His tone is half incredulity and half hopeful delight. "Yeah, Gaétan interviewed me for his history class, so. /Officially/ ancient." He crooks a lopsided smile at this. "I've been reading a lot of history myself -- the part I missed. Seems like the bosses rode that postwar wave hard. Used to be /Communist/ wasn't such a bad word, at least not in my neighborhood." He looks up, eyes narrowing against the blazing lights overhead. "Oh, we were always organizing, one way or another. Striking, supporting strikes, beating on scabs, getting our own heads beaten in -- as often by cops as not -- and then going to meetings and 'congresses' where university fellas would lecture us about how to be more enlightened /proletarians./" Here a dry chuckle, though his pale blue eyes are steady and fierce. "That's a fight I'd like to get back into."
"Are you kidding, I've seen it about a billion times! When I was small I thought twisters would take me some place magic." Jax waves a hand as he speaks; several of the unused paints from their class seemingly rise up to swirl together into a whirling multi-colored funnel that spins off across the room, leaving in its wake a glittering golden bricked road. The variegated tornado evaporates into nothingness when it hits the opposing wall, though the road lingers a minute before fading.
Jax has already moved on, too, like this is nothing. (Though his eyepatch -- previously black with a brightly colored dragonfly in the middle -- has now turned green with a winged monkey.) He presses a hand to his chin, his eye wide and his tone brighter. "You ain't pulling my leg, are you? Like, for /real/ for real, /Captain America/ whaling on scabs and getting beat by cops?" A red version of Steve's helmet sprouts on his own head, with the A circled. "That's the best thing I ever heard. I'm afraid my side of the battle usually tends more towards the cooking and bandaging, but you stick around, I'm sure /someone/ can find you someone needs punching."
Steve's jaw drops open and he pushes away from the wall as if to brace himself against the rainbow tornado that sweeps through the classroom. His alarm fade quickly, however, leaving him grinning with boyish wonder. "Wow! That's..." He steps forward onto the yellow-brick road, scuffing the sole of one boot to test it's surface. Turns back to Jax, blushing again, but grin still firmly in place. "Being around Luci gave me a skewed impression of what contemporary folks are likely to know especially in entertainment history, and I guess now I'm compensating in the other direction." Another chuckle, a small shake of his head.
"God's honest truth! Though, well..." His smile turns crooked again. "I /fought/ scabs, but mostly /they/ did the whaling, being as I was a sickly runt at the time." He holds out a hand level to the floor, barely above the height of his own shoulder. "That was /before/ Captain America, just...little Steve from Red Hook." But he says this without shame or regret, his head held high. "Cooking and bandaging is vital work, too. In my time, it was mostly womenfolk doing that, but I had a hand helping my ma out with it now and then..." Here his words take on the faintest lilt of a soft Irish brogue. "...when I wasn't well enough to go get my fool head kicked in." He drops the accent as easily as he picked it up. "But, then and now, I'm always game to do some punching."
"Being around Luci'll give you a skewed impression of a /lot/. You ain't careful, he'll have you thinking he knows everything. But he don't! I'm fair sure he only knows, like, eighty percent of everything, and he got books for the rest." The helmet fades, too, from Jax's head. He lifts his hand to the same approximate height as Steve's. "Sickly runt? That's hard to imagine. Guess they had /pretty/ good spinach back then, huh?" He puffs out a somewhat dry chuckle as he turns back to finish rinsing the last few brushes of their paints. "You know? It's still mostly the womenfolk doing it today, but I can't find it in me to be fussed. I got a few skills, and I put 'em to use."
"I like to imagine I know better than to underestimate books," Steve says, settling back against the wall again, "/or/ people. Granted, I didn't used to have much need of imagining people might appear out of thin air or conjure up rainbow tornadoes." He smiles, bites his lower lip. "It was about as bland and mushy as the rest of our food, but I can't argue with the results." He mimes squeezing an imaginary can, his muscular forearm bulging with the effort. "The hard part is getting the spinach /out/ of the can once it's crushed." He looks thoughtful for a moment, glances at the canvas that had been used to demonstrate technique to the class. "I recall you also teach high school and tattoo -- on the side? Seems like you're putting /quite/ a few skills to use." His eyes go wide. "Wait, are you teaching protest safety, too?"
Jax flicks a glance towards Steve's flexing arm, blushes deep, looks back to his brushes. "N... no, can't argue with those results." He taps the brushes against the edge of the sink, shaking excess water from them before putting them with the others to dry. "Oh gosh, no," his head shakes as he washes his hands clean. "I ain't teaching protest safety, this class will be my ki... well, my son in... all-but-law, he's fantastic if you care to stick around. Though," he admits this a little /sheepishly/, "I /am/ giving the same class again tomorrow. We tend to run it a couple times before any big actions."
His cheeks have returned to their usual pale by the time he turns back around. "You seem to wear a /fair/ few hats yourself. Soldiering and arting and now I'm learning you a bona fide rabble rouser." On his head, in turn, appear a camouflage helmet, a dark beret worn at a jaunty angle, a black balaclava. They fade as quickly as they appear, Jax's smile bright. "What else am I gonna learn you hiding in there?"
Steve blinks, perhaps thrown by the false starts in terms of address. "I'd love to, but I have supper with the Tessiers in the evening. I might drop by tomorrow, though -- do I need to sign up for that online, too?" There's a faint note of trepidation in his question. He breaks into a smile again at Jax's somewhat literal interpretation of wearing many hats. "Well, my /art's/ got a long way to go -- my rabble-rousing, too, according to Luci. I suppose I was an actor, too, and my singing's not /half/ bad." He pushes away from the wall again. "But, it's a brand new century to me. Who knows what else I might pick up, if I keep my mind open?"
"Nope! You can just drop in, you don't need to sign up." Jax wipes his hands dry against his overalls, and tips the jar of murky water out into the sink. "Singing and everything? Gosh, you /are/ a surprise." Jax looks over Steve a moment longer -- a touch of pink flushing into his cheeks when he looks away, waving Steve back over to the art supplies. "I'm sure this century will have a /lot/ of learning opportunity. Right now, though, nothing more exciting than where everything around here lives. C'mon and give me a hand."