Logs:Normal High School Experiences

From X-Men: rEvolution
Normal High School Experiences
Dramatis Personae

Gaétan, Matt

2019-04-12


"Douchebags gonna douchebag." (CW: discussion of bullying.)

Location

<NYC> Subway - Salem Center


The 5 train rattles away from the platform, quickly clear the rambling edge of town, and picks up speed across the countryside. Outside the rain-streaked windows, the new spring green of trees and grass lies damp beneath a gray sky. At the Friday evening rush hour, most commuters are headed out of the city rather than in, and so the the last car on the train from the terminal station is less than half-full.

Matt's Friday casual still doesn't quite sink to the level of the nerdbro leisure he favors outside of work. His shirt is short sleeve, but still a button-down of soft peached fabric in variegated green, and his gray jeans actually fit properly, his black brogues clean and shined. A black attaché case lies across his lap, from which he has drawn, but not opened, a library book ("/Sovereign/", the cover reads above the silhouette of a short-haired figure flying high above the curve of the Earth, cape fluttering behind them, and beneath it "by April Daniels").

He had been quiet since boarding, but now folds his hands together across his book and darts a sidelong glance at his travel companion. "{Sooo, I agreed to stay out of your way at school whenever possible,}" he says conversationally. His French comes out more colloquial than usual, each syllable colored with his Montreal-Nord roots in a way that clashes profoundly with his polished appearance. "{And I know that doesn't just stop at the gate. But, neither does being your your brother.}" He lifts one hand, turns it palm-up in a kind of manual shrug. "{Can we talk about what happened Wednesday? And since?}"

Slumped against the window in black and green soft shell jacket, jeans, backpack tossed on the floor at his feet knee braced on the seat in front of them, Gaétan's attention has been fixed firmly on his phone as if determined to hold true to teenager archetypes. (The fact that his phone is open to his Kindle app and not any games or social media might belie the rest of his picture perfect image but who is counting, really?)

His eyes slide up from his screen when Matt speaks, but only to look out at the raindrops hitting the window. Then back down at the phone in his hand. "{Wednesday? Mmn, Wednesday. My Japanese test was canceled because Saul Ryder turned all our desks into goo. A total accident, I'm sure. You know how new powers can be.}"

Matt snorts lightly and elbows his brother in the side. "{I meant the /fight./ Your jailor gave me his report, but he doesn't /really/ know what happened either. But I'm not asking for him, or the administration--teacher hat is /off./}" He traces an X over his heart with an index finger, his smile rueful and lopsided, with just a hint of his trademark cheesiness.

Gaétan's brows slide upward. "{Yeah? What did that hippie tell you?}" His posture doesn't shift, and he doesn't look up again. He does close his Kindle app, switching it over to some kind of colorful block puzzle game.

Matt drops his hand back down to the book in his lap, fingers playing idly over the fore-edge. "{He said that the actual fighting was between the upperclassmen, over those boys picking on Harm and possibly you.}" Here his diction grows more formal and journalistic, which if anything strikes an even weirder contrast with his accent. "{He didn't think either of you did anything to provoke the incident, but suspected that you were concerned honesty would bring down further reprisal from the bullies.}" Here he looks aside at Gaétan again, bright green eyes lingering for a moment on his brother's profile. "{Apparently the combatants expressed remorse for their thoughtless words and actions, promising to henceforth treat their schoolmates with compassion and respect.}" His eyebrows lift up ever so slightly, and he drops back into more casual speech again. "{But I'm more interested in your take.}"

"Douchebags gonna douchebag," Gaétan offers this with a shrug of one shoulder, a quiet snort. "{That's gotta be a high school constant.}" His jaw works from side to side, eyes fixed on his screen. "{I mean for me it's whatever. Harm's the one who's gonna get the worst of this.}" His foot bounces restlessly, knee jostling at the back of the thankfully empty seat in front of him. "{What did /you/ do when you were -- y'know. A babyfag.}" If he has any compunction about applying such terms to his brother, it certainly doesn't come through in his offhand tone.

"{It is true, and not only of high school.}" Matt tips his head slightly, and the gesture feels like a nod even if it is not quite. "{I doubt you relish seeing your friend get bullied. Especially when any attempt to help is as likely as not to make things worse--or make yourself a target, too.}" He sucks in a deep breath, and lets it back out, his expression unchanged. "{I became a bully, myself. A much, much more effective one than my tormentors.}" There's no remorse in this matter-of-fact admission. "{It was effective, but I am not proud of it. I could have done far better, at the cost of far less harm.}"

"Hhh." The sound /almost/ comes out as a laugh. Almost. Gaétan rolls his head to the side, looking up and back out the window. "More effective? Maybe you should teach a class in /that/. {/Dumbass/ shithead who stepped in Wednesday just made it all...}" His jaw tightens, and he lets out a long, slow breath. His fingers curl tighter around his phone. "{Whatever. I don't think she cared about Harm, just about flexing.}"

"{Social engineering can be hard to teach.}" Matt chuckles softly. "{If only because we live in a society that looks upon it as wicked no matter your method or aim.}" He scruffs the backs of his knuckles across the five-o-clock shadow on his chin, eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "{A workshop on /de-escalation/, though...}" He tilts his head again--the movement little different than before, but this time it looks gently inquisitive. "{The girl--you think she was trying to pick a fight, herself?}"

"{I think she wanted to show off how big her --}" Gaétan hesitates, presses his lips together, continues, "{tentacles were and didn't give a crap that it was making things way worse for Harm the whole time.}" After a moment, the slightly wry addition: "{... or for me. Kind of novel. I've never even /had/ bullies until she managed to earn me some. It's cool though. Gotta have at least one /normal/ high school experience, right?}" He tips his head back against the seat, only now, finally, looking over to Matt. "{That definitely sounds like the kind of thing they'd eat up.}"

"{It can be exciting, especially for kids who've been bullied themselves, to suddenly have the power the fight back.}" Matt's smile is slightly crooked here, but not unkind. "{But regardless of her intentions, the consequences are just as real, and just as bad. I'm sorry that it's caused you both such difficulty. There's plenty of normal high school experiences /no one/ should have to go through.}" The edge in his voice is brief, soon dissolved into flippancy as he lapses into a sharp, knowing smirk. "{And come now, you're getting /plenty/ of normal high school experiences--I know who you have for U.S. History.}" He meets his brother's eyes, and gives a barely perceptible shrug. "{The administration? They would, but it'd be an immense feat of social engineering to keep the headmaster from teaching it himself.}"

"/Ugggggh/," is Gaétan's answer to the thought of extra class with Xavier, an exaggerated shudder accompanying. "{You should have seen it though. The second Mr. da Costa showed up she went from strangling them to practically /crying/ about how /they/ were being so scary and offensive and she just /had/ to defend herself. Big wet eyes and everything. I was almost convinced and I'd watched her attack 'em first.}" There's amusement, now, in his voice, though the tug at his lips is only slight. "{Freaking sociopath. Almost be impressive, if not for...}" This just trails off. He slumps back down in his seat, slowly returning his eyes to his phone.

"{If not for making a hash of the would-be rescue?}" Matt suggests after a moment, mildly. "{I wasn't there, but comparing what you said to Mr. da Costa's report, it seems her stratagem /was/ effective to a certain point. Now, if she'd applied that skill to the /bullies/ from the outset, you might be looking at a very different situation. That,}" he taps a finger on the cover of his book for emphasis, though his tone is still light, causal, "{is what I meant by doing it more effectively, and causing less harm.}" He glances aside at his brother again, something ineffably wistful in his eyes. "{It is not the only way, and perhaps it is not the best. But it is /a/ way.}"

"{Effective at letting her off the hook, sure. Also effective at making sure those assholes are /dedicated/ to harassing Harm rather than just, you know, do it in passing one afternoon.}" Gaétan's leg has set back to bouncing again, his thumb tapping at his screen. "{I don't know what to do about it now, though. At my old school, maybe. Here, I'm just --}" He clenches his jaw again. "{Whatever. It'll blow over.}"

"{Workshop or no, I can teach /you/ a few stratagems of your own. Ways to talk them down, or at least steer them away from actual violence.}" Matt crosses an arm over his chest, props his elbow up on it and rests his chin in the palm of that hand. "{Regardless, it will likely blow over if you just keep your head down and wait for them to lose interest.}" For a moment it seems perhaps he will say no more, his eyes staring past the seat in front of them. "{I hope that it does so before someone gets hurt. But if at any point you think that it is spiraling out of control--come to me about it? Or go to Jax, if involving me directly is too much. Please.}"

"{You or Jax?}" Gaétan's brows scrunch together. He shoots a long look sideways towards his brother. "{I really don't think /that's/ going to make them reel in the whole. Homophobia thing. But I'll keep it in mind.}"