<XAV> Treehouse - Xs Grounds
Built by enterprising students of yesteryear, this treehouse has weathered generations of Xaviers' students coming up here to study -- or escape from studying. A cozy retreat, its wood planks are sturdy and well-sanded, fit snug together to keep out draft. Snacks occasionally find their way up here, and the roof keeps the rain off well enough to pass a night -- so long as the teachers don't catch any students at it. For anyone agile enough to make the jump, a lucky leap juuust might carry them from here to the school rooftop, so long as they're careful of the drop...
The constant yo-yo of the weather is on an upswing today -- though snow is predicted later this week it doesn't feel like February right now, pushing sixty here at midday. The grounds are bright and lively with the sounds of kids enjoying both the weather and the meaningless holiday -- a pick-up game on the basketball court, students draped across the lawn snacking or chatting, a frisbee or two dug out of closets, some hopefully joyful yelling down by the lake. The treehouse is quiet, at the moment. Gaétan, back on campus earlier than his usual habit, is tucked into a corner of it, dressed comfortably in relaxed jeans, a plain white tee under an unbuttoned tangerine corduroy shirt. He's alternating between nibbling on some airy and perfectly shiny-colorful macarons and scrawling something on a slender e-ink tablet. His bass is propped against a wall but, for the moment, he hasn't been touching it.
Remi was in no mood to embarrass himself by joining in the game of basketball, which he so despised. He clambered up the ladder to the treehouse. He had packed his bag for a specific reason this morning, packing it full of snacks and a spare first-aid kit that he intended to stash up there, just in case! Because of the weather he had adorned himself in a large, black, puffy jacket with a fur hood, stolen from his father because it was comfier than anything he owned. He had a handknitted, lavender, woolen scarf wrapped snuggled around his neck, creating a snood to protect his neck and throat from any wind. The lower half of his body was adorned in a simple pair of blue jeans and a bright pink pair of sneakers.
Humming along to Psychosocial by Slipknot he opened the treehouse hatch, yelping slightly at the sight of another person already up here. He paused for a moment, let out a sigh and continued his ascent into the treehouse. "Hello. Sorry for bothering you."
It's an open question whether Spence even remembered it was a holiday before he showed up on campus, but here he is anyway. Well, not in the treehouse specifically, until all of a sudden --
-- he is, with a file box full of...scientific instruments? He's wearing a light sky blue softshell jacket, a brown t-shirt that reads "The Spice must Flow" above a cartoon sandworm coiled around a bottle of cinnamon, slighty tattered blue jeans, and red lowtop sneakers.
He freezes when he sees Gae. "Oh hi -- um." His eyes dart to Remi, his smile still kind of nervous and uncertain. "Oh hi." He says, again. Then, looking back at Gae, "I won't be long I'm just here to --" He has perhaps forgotten, for the moment, how gravity works, because he just lets go of one side of the box to reach inside, promptly spilling half of its contents onto the floor. "Oh crap oh crap oh crap!" At least he remembers to set the box down when he crouches to pick the items back up: thermometers, rainmeters, barometers, hygrometers, pyrheliometer, their style and construction ranging from steampunk to space age. Luckily, the hammer he'd brought along -- presumably to mount these instruments -- managed to stayed in the box.
Gaétan glances up swiftly when the hatch opens, blinking at the yelp before slouching back against the wall. He's eying the other boy's puffy jacket, fur hood, scarf, with an open disbelief that he soon shakes off. His smile then comes easy, chin jerking up in a nod to Remi. "Oh, hey. It's Remi, right?" He's starting to reach for his sturdy glass tupperware full of macarons, starting to nudge them in Remi's direction in offering, when there is Suddenly A Spencer. The smile falls abruptly away from his face, shoulders just a little tighter, eyes faintly narrowed. He snatches his stylus back up, glaring down at his tablet as if it has offended him. "What," he says flatly when All The Things spill out across the floor, "the fuck." He traps a rolling pyrheliometer under his toe before it clunks against the wall, then picks it up to stare at it. "... what the hell is all this?"
"Honestly, every corner I go today there's something gone awry!" he half sighs and half chuckles. He closes the hatch behind him and sets his bag down before crawling around on his hands and knees to help Spencer pick up all of his.... things??? "Spence, what kind of scientific torture device are you building?" he said putting the barometer back in the box near Spencer's feet.
Feeling rude for not answering properly, Remi spat out the scarf that was now invading his mouth hole and smiled back at Gaétan. "Yup! That's me, delighted to meet you" he seemed out of breath and slightly woozy as he steadied himself against the floor for a moment. "I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met before!"
Spence chews on his lower lip. "That's kind of me every day I think. Thank you." At both of (all three?) of the questions he brightens just a little. "It's science! Meteorology, specifically. I'm doing a study of weather patterns on school grounds compared to other places around the town and county. I wanna see if weather-related powers, like Mandy's and Oro -- uh, Ms. Munroe's have long-term effects on microclimates. It's not," he tells Remi very seriously, "the torture-y kind of science. That one's a pyrheliometer." This last part comes out incongruously excited beside what he'd said right before. "It measures sunshine!"
"He wouldn't do torture science," Gaétan sounds just a little prickly with this emphatic statement, but it's fleeting. "I mean we haven't but there's like a dozen people at this school, new kids kind of stand out." He's still looking at the contraption in his hand -- lifting it higher to peer through one end. "Pyrheliometer," he echoes, brows lifting as he commits this to memory. Despite himself the tense irritation that had clouded his features when Spence showed up is easing away. "-- do you really think anything you stash in here is going to last, that shit'll be broken or stolen before dinnertime. There are places on the roof that might..." He trails off, lightly tossing the pyrheliometer back towards Spence. "What is sunshine measured in? How much sunshine does your dad, uh --" There's a single-sided jazz-hand type flutter that accompanies this question.
"oh yeah, that's true" Remi nodded at Gaétan. "And umm, Spence, couldn't you just hide these in our room?" he sat himself back down against the opposite corner to Gaétan and began unpacking his bag, checking that he'd brought everything.
Pulling out his encyclopaedia on infectious diseases, followed by his glasses that snuggly fit atop the bridge of his nose. Remi then pulled out a thick blanket and several Tupperware filled with colourful foods and pushed them to the centre of the room. "Feel free, I made them." he said turning to Spence. "But, I didn't 'make' them. The cake isn't kosher but the cupcakes are, I had to shop around and find a kosher bakery."
"Oh yeah for sure, I was gonna nail it to the roof!" Spence nods eagerly. Catches the instrument easily. "Thanks. Or maybe the side, or maybe even the actual tree but probably not? Just like, wherever there's the least leaves and stuff in the way. Another set is going on the mansion's roof but like, in the back. Which...maybe some of them will get stolen or broken anyway, but maybe I can put up some signs... Probably," he tells Remi, "not in the dorm room though there's kinda not really any weather in there. Usually." Should this addition be concerning? Spence seems unconcerned! He's rolling the pyrheliometer between his hands now. "There's a lot of ways to measure sunshine but this one measures total solar irradiation, so, watts per square meter. It's literally measuring solar power."
Was he excited before? He's definitely excited now. He bounces a few times on the balls of his feet, then abruptly sits down to (mostly) stop himself bouncing further. "Oh man oh man, Pa's solar irradiantion is variable, like in terms of absolute -- well, and also he can change the focus. But also it's hard to measure cuz he's a person and moves around in kind of unpredictable ways." He deflates a little. "Usually. And like I'm not gonna do science to him while he's locked up." He stares at Remi for a moment, perhaps dragging himself back from scientific musings. Looks down at the cupcakes. Looks back up at Remi. Looks back down at the cupcakes and peers kind of sideways at the container they're in. "Thank you, that's really thoughtful..." His fingers flutter along the smooth sides of the pyrheliometer. "Um. Do you know if the container...I mean..." He bites his lower lip again, hard.
Gaétan squints over at the book Remi has pulled out -- his brows lift again, though he makes no comment. "There's places on the roof you could probably get to easier than most kids, shit's less likely to get taken then. Broken is a huge crapshoot Avi's been determined to make some Real Winter happen and things are getting kind of unpredictably deep-freezed all over the place." He crooks one leg up towards his chest, resting his tablet on it. His stylus twirls lazily between his fingers. "It's not like he's got much better to do in there, he'd probably be thrilled to help you with a science project instead of dodging perv cops. And it'd be cool to see what his max setting --" Gaétan hesitates, nose crinkling. "... okay, maybe not his max."
He plucks up another one of his macarons, pale green and delicate, and takes a bite. His eyes skate to the cupcakes -- to Remi -- to Spence -- and a crooked smile slips across his face. "He's being polite -- Spence, you can just say no, dude, it's fine -- he's not gonna eat your cupcakes. You can't even kasher a plastic container." Kind of ruefully: "... and even if you could, his cupcake standards are high, I don't know a store on earth that..." His mouth twists to the side. "I'm not saying it isn't nice to try! But in this case it's not really the thought that counts there's like ten thousand strict laws and it's probably easier to let him do the baking. His shit's great."
Remi's eyes dart down to the floor as he temporarily hides in his makeshift snood. "Not a problem!" he sighed, attempting to keep a smile on his face. He picks up the tupperware containing the fake kosher cupcakes and stares at them for a moment. The cupcakes looked pretty similar apart from a newly forming pool of molten sugar. He stood up, very calmly and threw the container out of the window as hard as he could, the sugar particles in the sugar puddle he had created then began to pop and crackle, raining rapidly cooling sugar crystals down on the field below. He hoped he hadn't hit someone but he knew the liquid should be cool by the time it got to anyone down below.
"It probably is easier to let him bake for himself. But i'll find a way to get him treats, even if i have to special order them, not touch them and leave them on his bed for when he stops by. I don't give up, thank you." he slumped back into his corner, donning his glasses and pulling out a blanket and laying it over himself.
"so...science sounds fun."
"I mean he wouldn't care if I did it probably but then the pig scientists might try to get involved and then I might have to wreck their lab and then Nick Furry might make more trouble for my pa." Spence is trying and failing not to look smug. "Except now I kind of want to wreck their lab...uhh anyway, I'm fine with cupcakes being not as amazing as my pa's," he sounds only ever so slightly defensive, and then apologetically, "but yeah, it's like he says, there's just a lot of complicated and obscure laws around kashrut. And I know you're trying to..."
His eyes go very wide when Remi chucks the cupcakes out the window, and even wider when he hears the sugary fireworks. "Um." His fingers are fluttering very fast and restless and distracting. "You don't have to special order anything I'm not hurting for --" The pyrheliometer he had been fidgeting with abruptly vanishes and he cringes. Sits on his hands. Then immediately pulls them back out again and reaches into the box for another pyrheliometer. Then puts it back. "I'm not gonna apologize for how I observe my religion, but I really didn't mean you any disrespect." He's kind of addressing this to his box of science gadgets.
Gaétan has been turning his attention back to his tablet, has been munching casually at his pastries, but he goes very -- very still -- when the cupcakes go out the window. For a few short but noticeable beats he does not move and is, for the keenly observant, not even breathing, not seeming to register the startled yips and curses from below the treehouse or Spence's chatter about Jail Science. It's only Spence's not-really-apology that snap his attention back to the other students, posture shifting back into an easy slouch against the wall. "Dude, what the fuck," there's no heat in his tone, just a baffled kind of incredulity. "Sometimes, you should give up. Are you trying to do something nice for him or for yourself? It's called boundaries, 'no' doesn't just apply to boning."
Remi's brows furrows with confusion at the others' reaction before he gasps in realisation. "No, no, no, no! Oh gods no, sorry! I'm not mad or anything! And i'd never expect anyone to apologise for their religion no no no." he shook his head with an awkward chuckle and bowed his head apologetically. "They just weren't needed anymore so i threw them away, granted, maybe not the best idea. I'll stop trying if Spence wants me to, I just like treating people. That's literally all this is. Spence was nice to me when I first came here and I wanted to do something nice but I keep messing it up" he chuckled.
Waving a hand dismissively in the air he continued. "But no, I don't really get angry, sometimes a little down, sometimes a little disheartened, but never angry or annoyed at someone else, i find it a waste of time. Oh gods, i'm sorry i'm rambling but I promise, I really didn't mean anything by it! I'm sorry!" he fumbled around trying to open his jacket, his fingers shaky and unable to figure out the zipper. After a few unfruitful attempts he leaned forwards, grabbing a cookie from one of the tupperware he'd brought and scarfed it down, sighing with relief and bowing his head again apologetically
"I'd appreciate if you stop trying yes thank you very much." The words pour out of Spence in a single uninterrupted stream, but after this he's quiet, listening to Remi's explanation. His eyes haven't gotten much less wide, and dart occasionally aside to Gae through all this. Finally, hesitantly, "I guess I'm still jumping to..." He trails off, then frowns down into the box, his next words halting and uncertain as if he has just found all the pauses he didn't use earlier and doesn't quite know what to do with them. "Okay but. You kind of. Threw them out the window? And exploded them? And it's super common for people to get mad when --" He starts to slap his head but smoothly transfers the gesture to scrubbing his face instead, and seems to have forgotten how to pause again with, "Thank you for explaining I apologize for my part in the miscommunication."
Gaétan is quiet throughout this exchange, stylus back to spinning -- a little slower, now -- up and down along his knuckles. His expression has shifted into just a neutral contemplation, which he turns back to his tablet and its half-filled music staff. Idly casual, he pushes his squat square dish of colorful macarons -- pink with lightly herb-speckled filling, pale green, light brown with caramel in between -- towards the others in silent but clear offer to share. "You didn't miscommunicate," is the only thing he volunteers now, excessively mild in his tone.
Remi nods, his face still contorted in an apologetic wince. "He's right. You did absolutely nothing wrong, the blame is all mine. I've always been told i'm too extra with my reactions some times, I don't know, it makes sense in my head but not to others. So don't be sorry Spence and thanks for giving it to me straight." he smiled towards Gaétan. Covering himself up with his blanket and sinking into the corner, mentally kicking himself for freaking people out, he pulled out his book and began reading about gastroentiritis.
Spence nods, then comes up short when Gae offers the macaroons. Blinks. Looks up at the boy as if trying to divine something, but at last he just blushes and plucks up a pink one. "Thanks," he says with a small duck of his head. When he hesitates it's to look at Remi. "This also isn't any disrespect, but he -- they -- his family keeps a kosher kitchen --" He comes up short again and looks back at Gae, amazed. "-- still?" Despite the intonation, it doesn't sound like a question, and he doesn't wait for an answer before taking a bite of his macaroon, bouncing slightly in place. His "merci" is very quiet.
There's just a faint curl of smile on Gaétan's lips when Spence takes the macaron. "Strawberry basil. Baked fresh this morning. I swear on Mondays our house just fucking explodes with --" He waves a hand towards the pastries. His head thunks back against the wall, eyes fixing up on the ceiling. "I mean," he sounds a little awkward now, "we didn't want to -- like if you still wanted --" He fidgets in place just slightly before shrugging, overly nonchalant. "Yeah, still." He snaps the lid back onto the cookies, tucking them and his tablet both back into his messenger bag. "I'll leave you to your --" He studies the cover of Remi's book a long moment, then Spence's box-o-gadgets, finishing this sentence with an amiable, "-- nerdery." The bass is last and most careful to be tucked into its case before he heads for the ladder.
"You know Gaé, infectious diseases are quite interesting, especially when you live in what is basically a breeding ground for bacteria. I hope you don't catch gastroenteritis anytime soon or you'll be shitting out those cookies faster than you can eat them" he chuckled, flipping his page and nudging his glasses onto his nose. "Enjoy your art, and your music. I play violin, if you ever want a weird jam session" he smiled at Gaétan as he made his way towards the ladder.
"I do. Still want to." Spence still looks and sounds quietly amazed, even if his unused pauses have finally caught up with him again. He looks back down into his box as Gae packs up, but his slow rocking as he finishes his cookie doesn't seem particularly distressed. At least not until Remi's lesson on gastroenteritis. He mouths "what" a couple of times before managing, "What is with this -- passive aggressive --" He sputters for a bit longer than most people would even when flabbergasted before settling on, "-- whatever that was?"
Gaétan hesitates at the top of the ladder, watching Remi with a bland lack of expression throughout this Helpful Health Tip. He glances to Spence -- glances back to Remi. Shifts his bass just a little more securely on his back. For a long moment, a drawn breath, a slight upward hitch of eyebrows, it seems like he's about to say something in reply to this. But something doesn't come -- instead he just looks over at Spence, jerks his chin upward. "Lemme know, later. How much sunshine you catch." And then he's disappearing down the ladder, letting the hatch thump closed behind him.
Remi let out a long sigh as the hatch thumped closed. He blinked a few times at the bang and for just a moment sat in silence. Quickly realising that Spence was still there he took a breath. "Look Spence....I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have reacted like that, i'm just....everything is...." he paused for a moment. "I feel like everything is so different and im jealous of you all, everyone seems to have a place here and i've been trying but maybe...." A tear of pink goo began trickling from his cornea. "Maybe too hard, i think....and" his voice began trembling as he continued his apology. "It was wrong of me to treat your friend like that, and I promise no more baking" he sniffled as the gooey tears began trickling down his cheek, wiping them away leaving a sticky residue along his cheeks with one hand whilst eating one of his own cookies with the other.
"Im shorry" he said, crying and eating, his mouth full and his nose runny. "i'll be better, and i'll apologise to him, I promise"
"I don't -- he's not --" Spence groans and scrubs his face again. He hasn't stopped rocking. "You don't have to not bake just, not for me? There's a lot of kids who would appreciate more baked goods especially since..." He shakes his head. Keeps shaking long past the usual duration of the gesture as negation. "I'm sorry. Like, I know you're going through a lot. Even just being new to a boarding school is a lot, even without new powers and new...identity and." Was there going to be something after the "and"? Hard to say. "But that still wasn't okay, and I'm mad, and we can talk about it. Later. Cuz I really cannot right now." With that, and with his box, he vanishes.