Logs:In Which Cookies and Explanations Are Both Offered (and At Least One of Them Is Taken)

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In Which Cookies and Explanations Are Both Offered (and At Least One of Them Is Taken)
Dramatis Personae

Desi, Taylor, Vic


<< I'll be good. >>


<XAV> Kitchen - Xs First Floor

The kitchen staff at Xavier's tends well to the needs of its residents. Always cognizant of its students and faculty's dietary needs alike, the menu has a wide variety of choices, and the longtime cook works wonders in the kitchen. The pantry, too, is kept well stocked for those who want to come prepare themselves their own snacks. The shelf, fridge, and freezer space is ample, though if anyone wants to keep their own food there, they'd better make sure it's labeled clearly, and even that is no guarantee it'll last.

It's actually quiet in here, this hour. The kitchen has long since been scrubbed clean of any traces of its dinner preparation, and even the later-evening run on study snacks has largely died down. Too early quite yet for the insomniacs to start creeping in for their midnight grazing. Taylor may just be passing through -- when he enters its from the outside, letting in a brief rush of crisp air from the patio as he comes in from the gardens. Even among this land of the strange he still manages to stand out -- tall and broad, his wealth of tentacles only adding to his hulking stature. As he steps in he's busy winding the largest of his arms around (and around, and around) his midsection, mostly but not entirely covering the bold print BLACK LIVES MATTER (half in white, with the "I" in LIVES and the "MATTER" in contrasting red) text emblazoned across his tee shirt.

Vic walks into the kitchen at precisely 9:15 pm. He's in a tank-top that's halfway soaked through with sweat, and has a towel draped over his shoulders to stem the runoff from the back of his neck. He'd be more self-conscious about stinking up the place if he couldn't sense the near-total dearth of bodies.

<< I'llGoTheLongWayAround.Desi'sStillPissedAtMe,TookThatCreeperDaiki'sSide >>, he thinks, thoughts racing at several times human capacity. He's been told by the school's various telepaths that it's unsettling, but, well, the existence of telepaths was pretty unsettling, so fair's fair.

Following his thought process, he takes the long way around the kitchen, avoiding Desi's line of sight. He waves to Taylor as he heads to the fridge. Cracking it open, and shivering as the cold chills his sweats, he takes out a protein shake and downs it greedily.

Trailing just a step behind Taylor, Desi is arguably overdressed for a night-time stroll in the garden, in a smart lavender suede jacket over a scallop-edged leaf-green babydoll shirt, a green ombre knit scarf wound around her neck, ankle-length layer skirt with brown sequined lace over pink satin, and slouchy brown boots. Her mind is playing "April, Come She Will" and idly wishing it had a verse for March, as well. She carries a small woven basket laden with bundles of fresh-plucked herbs under one forearm, and freezes in the process of donning a pair of thin brown gloves when she spots Vic. << Oh gods, that one. >> This initial reaction is reflexive, but its follow-up is aimed specifically at Taylor. << Would you rather I clear out, if you're still of a mind to help Dai set things straight with him? >>

<< That one, >> Taylor's acknowledge comes with an also reflexive prickle that has just as rapidly melted away to a milder, bland: << Why, you gonna start something? Rather you didn't. >>

To Vic, his chin just lifts in a casual upward nod. He tucks his hands into the pockets of his jeans, scoots around to the pantry to open it. One long arm snakes out, roots around, returns in short order holding a ziploc bag of dark chocolatey cookies. His eyes flick over Vic as he takes his cookies to the counter, settles down on a stool with them. "Yeah," his wince is small and not unsympathetic, "Kinda heard you had a fight with my boy." He unzips the bag, offering the cookies out after he's taken one for himself. "School's probably too small to avoid each other forever, though. You talked to him since?"

<< UghShouldHaveFiguredTheyAllKnowEachOtherI'mNew >>

Still, Taylor has approached Vic diplomatically. << Fair'sFairLet'sGetThisOverWith >>

"We didn't fight," he says. He tosses the empty bottle over Taylor's head. It lands neatly in the recycle bin. "I called him out on being a creeper. He pretended it never happened and decided to leave me alone. Everything's copacetic. I got what I wanted."

<< I'll be good, >> there's a sickly-sweet sing-song quality to Desi's mental reply that does not disguise her scorn. She drops into the stool beside Taylor and takes a cookie from the proffered bag. Though she bristles inwardly at Vic's description of the incident, no anger shows on on her face. Vic can likely sense the abrupt increase in her heart rate, however. "He apologized for the unwanted attention and told you his reason," she says mildly. "That's hardly the same as pretending it never happened."

Taylor munches at his cookie, ducking his head as the bottle flies overhead and leaning back on his stool. It wobbles unsteadily on its back legs, though with several of his arms braced against the counter's edge and one more propped against the floor it is likely not nearly as unsteady a perch as it currently looks. His nostrils flare; he pushes out a slow breath, though at first he just listens to this exchange in quiet. "Well," he finally says, "if that's what you wanted, guess s'all gravy, then." He stops, licks crumbs off his fingers. "Is a small school, though. You're gonna know everyone here before long, too. Makes life a lot easier if you don't have --" The pause that follows is brief, his rubbery arms coiling tighter against the countertop. "Incident?" he asks instead of finishing that thought.

<< YeahFiguresNoAlliesHereNotReallyAnyAnywhere >>

"Desi," Vic says, remembering to make eye contact. "Sorry you took the whole 'closet' thing personally. I have pretty strong opinions about right and wrong, but it's still your choice to make."

The shake is gone, so Vic takes a sip from his water bottle. "I'll need more than your say-so to trust Daiki's explanation, though. His eyes were on me every" << NotLiterallyEveryButABunchMightAsWellBeEvery >> "time I walked in the room. I don't buy that the guy everyone loves could possibly be so paranoid about me not liking him that he needs to stare me down out of fear."

"Why even bother saying you're 'sorry' if you're just going to put it on me for 'taking it personally' in the same breath?" Desi still sounds calm, but the flare of her rage is bright in Taylor's mind. "From where I stood it looked rather like you were taking your--personal--frustration with Xavier's assimilationism out on schoolmates whose lives and struggles you know nothing about." She turns the cookie over delicately between gloved fingertips. "And then tried to justify it by accusing Dai of creeping on you." << Does this qualify as 'starting something'? >> She takes a bite of the cookie, more vehemently than she probably needs to.

<< 'Sorry you took it personally'? Feel like he done started it. >> One of the smallest of Taylor's arms, smooth and slender, lifts to rub slowly at his temple. "Dai's never thought twice about you like that, dude. Never thought once if I'm being honest, and trust me," his smile is brief and a little wry, "I hear who everydamnbody around here is checking out. Mind-reader curse. Kind of funny, you know, some straight guy assumed that just because a gay guy looked at 'em they're a creeper? I'd be quick to call that kind of bias out."

One of his arms works slowly, curling tighter, relaxing, curling tighter again in a sinuous absent kneading where it supports him against the table. "He has plenty good reason to watch everybody, and new people even moreso. The way his powers work on people their feelings tend to --" His hand lifts, tips out, fingers splayed indicatively in Vic's direction. "-- get out of hand quick. Jump to conclusions. Escalate bits of nothing into problems. Sometimes it just means assumptions and hurt feelings but it's led to some bad danger before, too. He tries to be careful. Sometimes --" The shrug of his shoulder is small as his hand drops back to his lap. "Doesn't work so well."

<< JesusChristIt'sLikeShe'sLookingForAFight >>

"Because I'm not sorry for what I said," Vic explained, trying not to be condescending but not really succeeding. "All I said was I was a little pissed at you. That's it." He crosses his arms, feeling cornered, confrontational. "It's like... I've got closeted gay friend in Tennessee. His parents are awesome and his school's progressive, so there's no safety at issue. But he still acts straight cause he's on the track team and doesn't want shit from his teammates. I'm pissed at him, hassle him about coming out every time we see him, but he says no and I drop the issue after a few minutes and we hang out and chill. But with you? We disagree on whether you come out as X-positive once and it's like you've written me off completely."

At Taylor's words, Vic's thoughts accelerate the pace. << SeriouslyThat'sTheGameHe'sPlaying? >> "Has nothing to do with 'gay,' Taylor, everything to do with 'guy.' You wanna talk straight guys? Fine, let's talk straight guys. If Desi comes to you and says a straight guy eyes her up every time he sees her, do you lecture her on rushing to judgment, or do you trust her creeper-sense and take a peek for yourself to make sure she's safe?"

But after this, the explanation that follows hits him like a freight train. "Wait. What. The fuck. You're seriously telling me his powers make me not like him?" << WhatTheFuckWhatTheFuckwhtthfckwhtthfckwhtthfck. >> His face slackens, his jaw drops, his eyes widen. Then, Taylor detects a surge of anger, and Desi sees his face morph to match. "Well why the ever-loving fuck didn't you lead with that? It's kinda fucking important, don't you think?"

"No safety issue..." Desi blinks slowly and swallows the rest of her words (<< ...because awesome parents and progressive schools definitely keeps queer people from harm >>) along with another bite of her cookie. "The difference, Vic, is that we are not your friend back in Tennessee. We don't have the kind of history with you that assures us you actually care and have our backs, but more importantly, you don't know if our safety is at issue, you don't know our lives, you don't know what trauma we carry." She meets his eyes placidly, her rage quieting into a kind of resigned irritation. "And when you judge us without consideration for those things, it is dismissive of our life experiences and our agency. That is why I 'took it personally', but I suppose your sense of right and wrong hasn't got any room for that, either."

To Vic's rage she only lifts her eyebrows ever so slightly. "Daiki didn't lead with that because he didn't know you had a problem with him until Saturday. When he did try to explain you didn't believe him, and none of us wanted to make the situation worse by pushing the issue." << Why am I doing this? Is this still Dai's influence? >> "He's been hurt many times over such things spiraling out, and has learned to be cautious." << No accounting for assholes, alas. >>

<< Coming to Xavier's has made my life a fucking cakewalk, you saying it don't work the same for gay people? >> "I'm a telepath," Taylor re-asserts mildly, aloud. "I trust my friends, and real convenient, don't need to lean too hard on trust with people I barely know." He plucks another cookie from the bag, zipping it back up afterward. He pulls in a longer, slower breath as he stands. "And no, nobody should have led with that. People's abilities are their own business and they don't owe anyone that info. I'm telling you this now because you seem real keyed up for a fight that shouldn't have existed in the first place. That's fine -- Daiki's powers get like that, sometimes, and it's rough. But they don't make you not like him, no. They don't make anything that wasn't there already -- they just take how people already feel about him and crank it up to eleven. Whether that's being real protective of a friend --" With a tip of his head toward Desi, "or getting mad cuz you decided a stranger wants you 'cuz of a passing glance. Anyway, it's put him in a lot of danger before. If you're real keen on staying angry I won't stop you, just --" He hesitates. Rubs one thin arm over the smooth surface of his head. "Just -- figured you ought to know."

"Fuck right I ought to know." Vic gives up on eye contact, pacing back and forth in front of his classmates. "Fuck. So he can't turn it off? Do I like, have to get fixed by Xavier? I don't want my head fucked with, but it sounds like it already is." He turns around in tight circles, back and forth, back and forth. "And yeah, you're a telepath. I'm not. Someone spends a bunch of time staring at me, I start to make assumptions. From what you said, his power spins those assumptions out of control, right? But you can't tell me I was wrong to be a little suspicious. I didn't know him at all. Just a quiet guy who kept looking. Fuck!"

Groaning, he rubs his temples. "Owe Shane an apology too, I guess, if Daiki really only has eyes for him. Shouldn't sow that kinda doubt in a loving relationship."

"But you, Desi. What the fuck? You knew his power messed with my head, and just decided, 'man, fuck that Vic guy, he's probably like this normally, too?'" His voice crescendos, then promptly softens again. << She'sCringingDon'tScareHerStopYellingNoPointingBeAngryBeColdAngryNotHotAngry >> "Everything I say, it feels like you're taking as badly as possible. Yeah, 'no safety issue,' of course there's always a safety issue, I'm not stupid. I'm white and I'm male but I'm queer and I'm X. I've gotten beat and threatened. I obviously fucking meant no specific safety issue, aside from the normal ones."

<< ThatFeltGoodNeededToGetItOutMakeThemListenDon'tShout. >> Vic stops talking for a moment, catching his breath and cooling his anger, but he hasn't said his piece. "Yeah, it's too dangerous for some folks. Psycho parents, discriminatory bosses. But if you're afraid of the random thugs? Well, closeting yourself doesn't make them go away. They just go elsewhere. Hurt others."

Desi stolidly finishes eating her cookie while Vic rages. Her shoulders pull in a bit tighter, but the slow, tidal swell of her anxiety remains manageable. Even so, she does not try to meet Vic's eyes again for the time being, just lets him say his piece, her anger distant now and cool, tempered by a far more powerful wariness. << Don't provoke him, >> the thought is quiet, admonishing, not altogether conscious. << Not as if he'll try anything, but he's agitated enough and that helps no one. >>

"The effects of Dai's power fade with time, so a mind-wipe might be a bit drastic," she says softly. "It does mess with everyone's head, though--including mine and Shane's. We might not have been entirely fair to you, and I am sorry for not managing that better." Her eyes finally lift back up to the new student, thoughtful. "But you still don't get to be the arbiter of what is an acceptable level of risk for anyone else. Nor do I. Staying closeted doesn't make the danger go away, but it does keep some people safe. To answer your original question, I intend to live openly after I graduate, but that doesn't mean I'll put up with those privileged like myself who wants to put my friends down for surviving." The corner of her mouth twitches, a wry smile cautiously aborted. "Or for just being unsure."

Taylor nibbles at his cookie slowly as Vic talks. He's not watching the others, eyes fixed somewhere up on the ceiling as he picks a chocolate chip out of the chocolate cookie. "He can't turn it off," he confirms finally, "and yeah, it'll fade. If you let it. Like I said, it doesn't make you feel anything. Just turns up whatever you're already feeling. Staying angry, holding grudges, or giving someone another chance --" He shrugs, a motion that includes both a shoulder and several tentacles. "All still totally up to you." He gets to his feet, tucking the stool neatly back in against the counter. His jaw works slowly, arm lingering in a slow tighter squeeze against the chair before he releases it.

Takes a breath, speaks slowly. "And it's dangerous for everyone. You can't sit there and say 'I'm not stupid, I've been beaten and threatened' like you understand but also expect that you can stand there and decide how much risk someone's taking by outing themselves. You think everyone owes you their whole-ass life story -- pour out their trauma for you -- before you give them the been-persecuted-enough stamp of approval to make their own life choices? Cuz, man, that will not win you a lot of friends here. I'm sure you've been through some shit. So has pretty much everyone who ends up at this school. Might do you some good to remember when you're talking to people that they're carrying plenty of their own weight you don't know jack about. I mean, if getting beat on by random thugs is the worst someone has to be afraid of -- I envy them that sheltered of a life and I still wouldn't condescend and tell 'em they owe me that risk."

"I'm glad you're planning to be out, and you don't owe me an explanation as to why it's hard. And for what it's worth to both of you," Vic adds, << They'reWrongNoPointFightingFindCommonGroundOliveBranch >> "Even if Desi changes her mind, I may not respect that choice, but I promise I'll respect it. I will not out anyone." He makes the same smile that Desi aborted. "Unless they're planning to sign on with the Friends of Humanity or the Klan. Then all bets are off. But that doesn't seem very 'Desi'."

Vic has gotten sweaty again from the stress and strain, so he takes the towel and mops his forehead down. "Anyway, I'm probably stinking up the whole kitchen. Thanks for telling me about Daiki, Taylor." << BetterLateThanNeverCreepedOurForWeeksWhyTheFuckDidn'tTheyWarnMeSooner >>. "I should hit the shower and then hit the sack, unless there's anything else?"

"While certainly preferable to the outright murderous alternative," Desi replies coldly, "it's not worth much, and if you think it is, we've got bigger problems than your ego." << Which is no mean feat. >> She rises stiffly, clutching her basket closer than she had before. "I'm sure there's plenty more we could discuss, but there hardly seems a point." << Thank gods Dai is graduating in May. >> Then, as she's turning to go, "If you develop an interest in actually making the world a safer place for people to come out in, maybe then we can talk."