CN ableist slur, references to violence
The staff calls them "rooms", but they're prison cells. This is a standard one, small though not claustrophobic, and the door with its single narrow reinforced glass window locks from the outside. The walls are off-white and the floor is the same multi-gray linoleum that plagues the rest of the facility, at least the parts the subjects get to see. There are two small desks with attached shelves, two twin XL beds, and a stainless steel sink/toilet combo in the center of the far wall. The inset overhead lights are cool white LEDs that make everything look kind of sterile and washed out, and are controlled by the staff from outside.
It's lunchtime in the cafeteria, but this lunch is happening in the comfort of the ~~room~~ cell Spencer ostensibly has all to himself. Or it was lately happening, anyway. Spence did actually go to the cafeteria earlier, but he's packing away his second lunch with impressive speed. Possibly Second Lunch is more appetizing, anyway, a luxury courtesy of Elie Tessier's generosity: instant cup noodles with hot sauce, and sodas. "Oh man this is delicious thank you." Maybe he's used up all his pauses for the day, but he does slow down, self-consciously. "I think I said that already. Maybe. Thanks, though."
"Should thank my mom." Gaétan has not been eating nearly so quickly. It's definitely only his First Lunch, but despite a chronic undernourishment lately he's been slow at picking his way through the cup of ramen. "Pretty sure she's just gonna keep us stocked until --" His brows pull together, plastic spork stirring slowly through his noodles. He doesn't complete this thought. Just shakes his head, offering Spencer a crooked half-smile. "Should probably just give you your gourmet lunch to-go next time, though. Feel like your time's probably better spent -- well. Not here."
Spence sets his jaw. "Until we get out of here," he completes the thought, firmly. "She must want that as much as any of us. Probably more, right? She sees what's happening to you here." He's rocking slowly back and forth now, fork twisting around and around inside his cup. Then looks up at Gaétan, wide-eyed. "Whaaaat. No way, you're my bestie. Anyway like I'm trying to give Badass Rebel Leader now but I can only keep that up for so long at a time. I'm not," he admits, "very good at it. Just not coming off like a 'retard' is..." He rocks harder, staring down into what remains of his noodles. Shakes his head. "I'm not very good at it. But I'm getting better. You should start coming with me to mess, at least when I've got a bodyguard detail. You're good at this stuff you can tell me who to pummel." He scrunches his face up slightly. "Or like. Who to get someone else to pummel while I look on disdainfully or whatever."
"Should've taken lessons from Luci while you could. Fooled a lot of people into thinking he's suave." Gaétan huffs a quiet laugh as he looks down at his noodles. "... which I guess just makes him suave." He sets his noodles aside, lifting one eyebrow has he leans back on Kavalam's bed. "I can tell you who needs pummeling, but I should not come with you to mess, dude. You're trying to give 'Badass Rebel Leader', not 'retard who pals around with that fucking flatscan'." His fingers drum lightly against the cover. "But if you got enough people together to stomp that bigass tin man into the ground, you'd win a lot of friends. Best start practicing now, you'll need a killer one-liner to use as a parting shot once he's crying on the Rec Room floor."
"I really can't imagine myself ever being suave but I will be asking Luci for lessons when we get home. I love my pa but all that acceptance and support and letting-me-be-myself is really not working out right now." Spence lifts his fork, all his remaining noodles wound around it in one lump. Then sets it down and starts unspooling them again. "Since they're obviously not gonna let you go for being a human... I mean I'm sure you got a good reason not to tell folks and I definitely get why you don't want to tell me. I'm just worried and I wanna protect you." He looks up at his friend, back down at his food. "Anyway, it would take a whole par -- gang to take down Rainy. And he's got his own gang, too. Starting that big of a fight..." He gnaws on his lower lip, then flashes a sort of rueful grin at Gaétan. "Your mom wouldn't happen to have any of the guards in her pocket, would she?"
"Have to make a note to him when we get back. Fuck acceptance, he's gotta ABA the weirdo right out of you." Gaétan scrunches his fingers into the sheets, one leg swinging slowly with a soft scuff against the floor. "I'll be fine. You need to focus more on getting some force behind you. Get a crew big enough that -- anyway, hanging around with me is not going to help that rep. Beau might stand a chance," he's adding, thoughtfully, "just get some of your fan club to back up him. His gang are fucking bullies, if they're not winning that fight easy I think a lot of them wouldn't even stick around." His mouth twists down at the mention of guards. "Some of them like her well enough. Well enough for what, I don't know. Smuggling us booze is one thing but --" He pushes himself up further to look more squarely at Spence. "Anyway, just means you gotta start it quick and end it quick. Guards can't be everywhere at once."
Spence attacks the remainder of his noodles with a renewed vigor that's perhaps only in part his growing adolescent appetite, though it doesn't really buy him all that much processing time. "You're smart and tough and I know you can survive but like." His shoulders hunch, then deliberately relax as he sets his empty cup aside and picks up a pastel colored fidget toy covered with buttons instead. "I know what it's like to be...thrown away. That's how I ended up here the first time. The other day Nanami asked me out, and she was just being practical I'm sure she thinks I'm annoying like everyone else does, but it was like you didn't even exist." His fingers play restlessly over the (mercifully silent) buttons, turning the toy over and over and over. "Sorry I know this isn't helpful. I trust you, and I will follow your advice, I just wish I was strong enough to protect you, too."
Knock knock knock! Outside the cell door, Naomi's voice, a little hoarse, a little nasal, a lot frantic. "Yo I'm coming in I need t' talk to Gae right now." The door tugs open with no respect for the current conversation, just enough for Naomi to slip in before closing behind her. When was the last time either boy saw her? Probably not since she developed that bruising on her face and arm, since the bottom file of scales started lifting off her cheek, since blood started to stain her scrubs. Possibly it did not occur to her that Spence would be in Spence's cell -- her green eyes tick over to him, stutter, then flick back to Gae. "Uh. Spence you need to git, I'mma --" she pauses for a second, then continues, very seriously, "-- hook up with Gae." Frowns -- "...Or we gon' hook up somewhere else? We're leaving anyway boy come on let's go." She crosses to Kavalam's bed, reaching out to tug-tug-tug at Gae's near arm.
"That's because Nanami's smart as hell, I hope you took her up on it. If it makes you feel better, when we're all out of here I can punch you about it," Gaétan offers Spencer very solemnly. "This just seems like shit to deal with with a therapist and not when we're --" He breaks off as the door opens, sitting bolt upright. He's started to form some kind of protest -- to the intrusion? To their impending Hookups? It's hard to say. The protest dies stillborn on his lips as Naomi gets closer, and he's looking with a frown at the bruises, at the blood. His mouth clamps shut hard when she actually reaches for him -- now he's looking down sharp to where her hand sits on his arm. He gets to his feet hastily, his half-eaten lunch forgotten. "UH -- I -- have to --" Blink, blink. "... hook up," does not sound convincing in the least, although he is following Naomi toward the door.
Spence sputters at Gaétan's evaluation of their Love Triangle situation, and then continues sputtering when Naomi comes to evidently pick his friend up. "Wait -- what?" He sounds utterly flummoxed. "Um. Is it like, dating remix times or..." He starts rocking harder again. "Well, have...fun...?"
"Thanks Spence bye Spence," comes out a lot distracted as Naomi tugs open the door and disappears with Gae into the hall.
... for like, a minute or two. There's a hurried whispered conversation just outside the closed door. Harm's name is briefly audible (maybe they, too, will be part of the Hooking Up? Stranger things have happened in prison) as are snatches of "what the fuck" and "what the FUCK." Then the door opens again and Naomi marches right back in and reaches for Spence's hand, eyes glowing, familiar psionic hissing echoing in his mind. "'Jump back to school and get help. Tell the X-Men where we are.'"
Gaétan might not look like he's been Hooking Up when he follows Naomi back in, but he certainly looks plenty rumpled. He's watching Spencer, intent, as Naomi orders him to leave. He's closed the cell door, arms crossed over his chest as he watches. His mouth twists slightly to one side at the mention of the X-Men. "Tell your dad."
Spence has pulled one knee up onto the edge of his bed by the time the others return, his face still fixed into an expression of extreme perplexity. He reflexively pulls his hand away when Naomi reaches for it, but is too distracted by her eyes to do it quickly enough to avoid her. His whole body hitches with the command. "I can't," he says through gritted teeth. "You don't think I would have weeks ago if --" His anger suddenly evaporates. "How did you -- is the grid down?!" He's hops down from the bed and nearly tips over on the landing, like someone encountering one more step on a staircase than he expected. "What the..." He glances between Naomi and Gae, and there's something that's not quite panic yet in his voice when he asks, "How come she can do that but I still can't jump?"
"'Why you still here? Why's he still here?'" Like all her questions in this state, these compel an immediate response from the boys. The glow fades back out of Naomi's eyes, the snake-like resonance out of her voice as she turns, edging towards panic herself, from Spencer to Gaétan. "Grid ain't down -- Rainy's gang woulda full murdered me 'n' Harm if it was." Brushing over that real quick on the way to -- "Uh it's because -- uh -- 5G? The shitfucks are," and Naomi's eyes are lighting up as she warms to this absurd lie, "installing 5G in my scales." How this would turn her power on is anyone's guess.
"Did we end up in another dimension again?" This is Gaétan's immediate (very resigned) guess for why Spencer has not successfully gone to get Jax. "Fool me once --" He's slumping back against the closed door. Lifting a hand to scrub at his face, though this just turns into a looong drag that pulls half his cheek down once Naomi's explanation registers. His hesitation here is long, and very noticeable. "I think I changed her powers," he says then -- very, very quiet. "I don't know why you can't --" His brow knit. "I just did what they said to do! Why would those shitfucks have ordered me to --" He's flailing a hand in Naomi's direction. "Give you 5G, this makes no sense."
"I just said, I can't jump!" is Spence's exasperated compulsory answer. At Naomi's "explanation" he mouths "5G" incredulously, glancing aside to Gaétan with a helpless expression that usually signals something along the lines of "please translate this into something that makes sense". The translation, when it comes, doesn't seem to help. "You changed -- how can you change powers -- ohhhhh..." His eyes go wide. "Oh shit!" He stutter-steps again, then recovers and drags Naomi with him to Gaétan's side, clapping a hand to his shoulder. His eye narrow in concentration briefly, then he shakes his head. "Nope, nothing. Okay. Okay, if you can make her immune to suppression, can you do that to me?"
There's a small "o" of surprise on Naomi's face at Gae's admission -- but only for a moment. "Maybe they didn't know." Naomi's brow is creasing (raising, really, high ridges forming in her scales, a wince where this pulls that infured bottom file further away from her skin) as she considers this. "They wouldn't've let us leave if they knew, right, they had you doing so damn much --" she cuts off with a small owowow as Spence drags her by the (lightly bruised, lightly scraped) hand back to the door. "I'on get it, Harm's powers done turned back on, Gae's turned back on..." She chews at her swollen lip, looks up at Gae with a frown. "Can you tell what you put in? Can you do it without the -- like -- the template thing?"
"I --" Gaétan's shoulder twitches under Spence's touch. His brows scrunch in brief concentration, but at the end he just shakes his head slowly. "I -- there's a lot going on in there, I could -- probably work it out. In time. But I can't just reach in there and mess around with -- I don't know what could happen." Though judging by the sudden guilty look he's shooting Spencer he has at least one solid guess. "Probably won't go over great if I ask them to let us back into the testing room, just need another quick peek at the answer key."
Spencer subsides reluctantly. "Yeah uh. I dunno anything about your power but messing around blind doesn't sound like a great idea. Probably." He steps back from the others and takes a deep breath. "It's up to Gae obviously, but I think it'd be a bad idea to let any more people know he did this. Especially if you could do it uh...the other way around." His eyes are still very wide, but he seems otherwise calm now. Incredibly, uncharacteristically calm. "But if you're okay with it," he tells Naomi, "you should go around to our folks and find out who you can turn on." A small frown. "Uh. You know what I mean. Starting with Sriyani. Even if this can't get us a literal actual door out, it could still be a key. We need to know what we're working with."
A month ago, Naomi would have at least giggled at the double entendre -- now, just looking at Spence with wide eyes, she's nodding with a deathly seriousness. "You got it, boss."