Logs:Of Help and Heroics (Or, M-Kids)

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Of Help and Heroics (Or, M-Kids)
Dramatis Personae

Nanami, Nessie, Harm, Kelawini, Naomi, Gaétan, Kavalam, Avi, Sera

summer vacation, 2021

"No worries, citizen!"


all over

xavier's school. may 29.

It's quieter than usual, with the school cleared out for the break between spring and summer terms. Never entirely deserted, of course; not at any boarding school and certainly not at one like this, more students than usual with plenty reason to stay behind. Nanami is putting on a cheerful face on a quick Duo message to her cousin: "-- really wanted to be there for your birthday, love, next year fo sho. I start saving now yea? But I'm sending you the best present, mo bettah than last year you won't even have time to miss me. I call again next week then yeah?"

It's only when she hangs up that her face falls; she checks her paltry bank account again first, hovers briefly over calling her parents before deciding against it.

There's a roil of cheerful yellow and orange smoke from her closet door. It opens a moment later, disgorging a short brown-skinned teenager, a little tangled in the silver and green cape they're wearing over their jean shorts and tee before they straighten it to flourish it proudly. "M-Kids," they announce, "or, um, kid! Well, at your service -- I heard you needed out?" Their brows lift, hand sweeping out as they reopen the closet door onto a bright sandy stretch of beach.


tompkins square park. june 9.

It's a beautiful day in late spring, and the park is bustling. A busker is keeping up a lively beat on some plastic pail drums, a trio of dancers are not getting nearly as much attention as they really should be for their extremely athletic moves, a stage is being set up for a concert later that evening. Over at a picnic table, Nessie isn't paying any of these goings on much attention, her focus mostly on the small zip-up makeup pouch in front of her, number of shades of pink nail polish recently pulled out of it and set in a row. She's looking at them with a very skeptical expression that isn't much assuaged by the reassurances of the younger girl in front of her, very similar in many of her facial features but decidedly less scorpion around the body. "I don't know," Nessie hems, "I'm so down for this manicure, Nene, but I don't know if all this pink is really me."

It's not, actually, unusual to see smoke coming from the Tompkins Square bathrooms -- though usually it's not colorful pink and purple, and in such quantities, and distinctly lacking any acrid smell of weed. Right now though there's a sudden outpouring of a colourful-thick cloud of smog -- the fat brown-skinned youth just pushing the door open has a messenger bag slung around their body with another of the smoke bombs (green!) sticking out of it, likely picked up from some cheap "magic" store. "Never fear!" they're announcing brightly, in between a small koff-koff that derails the rest of what they're about to say --

-- but no matter! It's picked up by a muscular boy emerging behind her, taller and darker-skinned, an actual mask (green with shiny silver outlining!) over his eyes, a similarly-colored cape -- not quite fluttering behind him, despite his best attempts to flourish it in time with his bright smile and nooooot really booming (his voice kinda cracks on the second word) "-- the M-kids are here!"

For all the fanfare, all he has in his hands is another travel pouch, clear plastic and zippered and packed to the brim with an assortment of variably-colored (not pink) nailpolishes. He sets these down on the table in front of Nessie with a dramatic bow, and the kids turn, smoke still dissipating into the park, to vanish back -- into the bathroom. The door closes behind them with a final small curl of purple fog.


earthsong commune. june 20.

The huge Midsummer bonfire in Earthsong's ritual field has been burning strong all night long. Not everyone has stayed all this time, many opting to go to bed after the circle was opened earlier, but between the two hundred or so commune members and easily as many guests, the party has never flagged. An organically rotating ensemble of musicians have kept up lively tunes and livelier beats for those who still have the energy to dance in these small hours of the morning, but plenty of the celebrants have settled down in clusters to chat or eat or consume more substances in preparation of the coming dawn.

Harm, very stoned and still tripping a little but not nearly as drunk as the other young people they've been carousing with, has gone to fetch more libations from the supply wagon. The quartermaster on duty has dozed off in her comfortable folding chair, but Harm knows what they're doing. Aware of and used to their altered state, they climb carefully up into the brightly painted and decorated wagon, shuffling opened boxes of snacks and blankets and first aid supplies out of their way to get to the crates of mead stacked high in one corner.

Stacked high, and empty but for one single bottle.

"On Litha?!" They ask aloud -- though there's no one else in the wagon to answer -- as they eye the lone amber bottle with its fanciful hand-stamped label. "I knew we should have brought more mead."

There's a cloud of thick purple smoke at the entrance of the wagon, swirling apart by the flourish of a green and silver cape dramatically flared by a short brown-skinned teenager striking what they clearly imagine to be a heroic pose. "No worries, citizen!" they declare triumphantly, "the --"

Their speech is cut short by a (slightly) taller, lankier girl in a similar getup, mask and cape over her jeans and t-shirt, hijab neatly wrapped over her hair, sauntering out from behind them: "Yeah, sorry, I think this one's mine." She's strolling over near the crates, waving a hand idly toward them -- the singular bottle of mead starts to duplicate itself, and duplicate itself, and duplicate itself, until the crates are stocked brimful of bottles. "Best drink up," she says as she heads back toward the entryway, disappearing back into the waning cloud of smoke, "they won't last all week."

The other kid seems undaunted by the interruption to their drama, just giving Harm a quick wave before they hop out as well. "Enjoy your party!"


lower east side. july 4.

The older teen standing directly in Kelawini's path, decked in the Stars and Stripes, isn't the first drunk person to accost her about wearing "the British flag" today, and probably won't be the last. Currently they are laughing and telling their friends, as though they weren't also standing there, "Oh shit, Moana here thinks Hawaii's a country!"

Kelawini is not, in fact, wearing "the British flag", though it seems doubtful too many of the patriots out today would recognize the hae Hawai'i on her t-shirt. "Ya and? Ainokea 'bout your stupid flag, dis not my country."

The other teen's knot of friends are suddenly closing in, and none of them are laughing anymore. "You don't like our country get the fuck out."

The squat building the teens have been standing beside doesn't look like much -- the deli that had been in that spot was long since shuttered, its sign faded, its lights out, its windows boarded. Presumably its doors are closed and locked -- but now the door is opening, disgorging a short brown-skinned youth with dark hair tied up in braids and a frown on their face. "This one's a dud," they're complaining about the smoke bomb in their hands," and then, a bit more squeakily, "Oh sorry! We're late!"

A slender girl with jeans, gauzy long-sleeved white shirt, a neatly tied green hijab, silver and green mask over her eyes, is following them out, a phone in her hand. "Is this the get out the country one, why are bigots so unoriginal -- sorry," she's saying to Kelawini, "that you get stuck with such losers." She's got the phone trained on the hecklers, now. "Okay-go."

A muscular Black boy trails the group, mask and cape (properly fluttering, today!) looking picture-perfect. "Only one getting out today is you." He lifts a hand -- the knot closing in on Kelawini slow to an effective halt. He swoops in, ties all their shoelaces together, nudges them a little closer to each other. "S'gonna look great on TikTok," he tells Kelawini cheerfully, "when they're back in real time."


union square. july 16.

It's only midmorning-- Naomi has places to be still today, and is not yet dressed in her Birthday Best. The run to do her Birthday Shopping was timed to be in and out before business picked up and attention was grabbed. Unfortunately, attention seems to have found her anyway. "I didn't steal anything," Naomi is saying, clutching the small plastic Guitar Center bag close to her chest. The white boys that have followed her out of the store don't seem to believe her, or maybe that isn't the point. They crowd her, further and further until her eyes glow emerald green. "Run away, leave me alone," she commands. And they do go to run -- but not before one of them yanks her bag away and takes off with it down the street. Naomi doesn't even seem to notice that her hands are empty until the boys are out of earshot.

Was there a whole second cluster of other teens in Guitar Center with Naomi? Probably not, given she timed her outing for some quiet! And yet the door is opening and here's a knot of teens emerging with gusto. One has a phone in her hand, recording her friends; one (a skinny Black girl who looks no more than twelve) steps up alongside Naomi, shyly offering her a long thin box gift-wrapped in green wrapping paper with a silver bow. The girl with the phone is strolling forward with a casual saunter; in front of the foremost of the fleeing boys, some stray concrete that's come dislodged from the sidewalk is multiplying -- and multiplying, and multiplying, the path suddenly more treacherous. It is picture-perfect when they lose their footing on the now-rubble-strewn sidewalk, trip, fall -- the stolen goods they were carrying flying up now in slooooow-motion into the waiting hands of the mask-and-cape wearing Black boy who catches it and then snaps the scene into fast-forward again, the rubble disintegrating to leave the sidewalk unobstructed once more as he jogs back to return the goods to Naomi. "M-kids," he's saying with a winning smile and a small salute, turning to hold the door to Guitar Center open for his compatriots once more, "at your service."


washington dc. downtown. july 20.

It's growing late -- maybe not by New York standards, but in this segment of DC on a Tuesday night there's hardly much life to be found at this hour. It's hard to say how long Gaétan has been sitting here, under the awning of the deserted patio umbrellas of a long-past-closed Greek pie shop just beside a chic extended-stay hotel by Lafayette Park (the other White House). His outfit (hunter green tuxedo with peaked lapels in black satin, just a hint of the silver and green scrollwork vest peeking out from underneath, perfectly knotted bow tie, black square-toed shoes polished to a gleam) is still looking pristine, though his postureis heavily drooping -- possssibly helped along by the empty Modelo Chelada tallboy on the table and second he's currently working his way through. His other hand is occupied by his phone -- or was before the battery goes dead. "Fuck," he says to the blank screen, and then again, "fffck." He glances across to the hotel next door -- then down to the beer in his hand -- then just tosses the phone to the table with a clatter and a groan. "Tabarnak."

The door to AKA White House opens, though alas! It isn't Gae's brother who emerges. What emerges instead is a thick cloud of green smoke and one solitary teenager, small and fat and dark-skinned, hair neatly bound up in thick Dutch braids, a green and silver cape at their back and a messenger bag slung across their body. They're jogging over to the pie shop's patio with a determined expression, digging through the bag to pull out an Anker power bank in a tiny black mest bag and set it on the table together with a lightning cable and then, with a solemn nod, turn back toward the hotel. They're halfway there when an urgent whisper comes from the held-open door: "Android".

Their hand smacks to their forehead -- they turn back, plucking up the cable apologetically and squinting at Gae's phone a second before digging out a USB-C to leave that instead with a sheepish: "Sorry! Sorry, hope you have a good night!"

The door doesn't quite close behind them -- a skinny Black girl scurries out before it does, giving Gae a small uncertain smile and leaving a large bottle of water on the table beside the power bank before turning to follow her friend back inside with a quiet, "'night!"


madison avenue. august 15.

The world's biggest India Day parade does not, actually, happen at home; the diaspora takes its celebrations very seriously. It is taking its nationalism extremely seriously too, unfurling an enormous tricolor in Times Square, the flags everywhere, orange-white-green outshining the riot of other colors this event used to be. It's on facepaint and sarees, tiny paper flags waving from strollers, flags unfurling from the scaffolding people have climbed. Kavalam has climbed, too, to get a better view of the parade, largely ignoring the dancers going by -- skilled though they are -- in favor of the next float, an association of physicians of Indian origin. He's scrutinizing it with anxious eyes in between licks of a pista kulfi, only hardly noticing when his usual obscurity skews sideways, the people around him paying him more than the usual amount of attention.

"Edey! Where's your spirit?" The older boy perched beside Kavalam, flag painted on his cheek, is eying him suspiciously a moment before magnanimously offering out a paper flag and a pointed, "Jai shri ram, aniya."

Kavalam eyes the flag a moment with pressed lips. His head wobbles noncommittally side to side. "Thanks, no thanks. My spirit it left with Modi. I just like the dancing."

"Pfft, real Indians only here today," the older boy replies, giving Kavalam an irritable shove that may not have amounted to much if they were on the ground -- on his precarious scaffolding perch it dislodges first his kulfi from his hand and then him from his seat, sending both toppling the one story toward the ground.

Kavalam's fall decelerates as he nears the ground, slowing until he's helped down by a muscular teenager similarly not bearing the tricolor but instead a glimmering silver-lined green mask and cape. "Y'aite, bro?" comes first. Beside him, a much smaller girl wearing a similar getup is offering up a fresh cone of kulfi and a shy smile. "C'mon," she offers quietly, "we found a better place to watch anyway."


harlem. august 27.

It's uncharacteristically messy in here, dirty clothes scattered around the floor and the clean ones in a pile that's overspilled the laundry basket they were brought up in, a pile in the corner where basketball and football gear jumble together with books and beach things, a half-assembled Jurassic World Lego set scattered across half the floor just waiting for some unsuspecting bare feet. "-- course I'm cleaning it," Avi is calling a reassurance to the door, although currently he's doing nothing of the sort, anxiously refreshing a news site where updates of the evacuation in Afghanistan is continuing to say nothing promising. "-- only got twenty minutes till we do candles," his mother is calling back, "and I'd sure appreciate a hand with the table sooner than later so I'd best not come up there be finding a mess." There are footsteps on the stairs -- Avi's eyes widen in sudden panic as he closes his laptop.

There's a brief hitch of pause in Avi's mom's footsteps -- almost imperceptible, maybe she just stopped to straighten a picture-frame? check a text? -- and by the time she gets to the door, by the time Avi opens it -- the room around him is sparkling clean, everything neat and tidy and perfectly away. There's just a hint of cheerful yellow smoke wisping away from under the closet door, and on his just-wiped-down desk, a hand-written note: "You're welcome :) ~M-Kids"


washington square station. sept 6.

Sera has been sitting on one of the profoundly uncomfortable benches in the subway station for quite some time now, watching every train go by but the one she wants. She gets up, a bit unsteadily, to examine (for the fifth time) one of the ubiquitous route change notices posted on a pillar. The distant rumble of an approaching train draws her attention from the poster and she lights up with relief when the F-train comes into view...and passes the station without so much as slowing down.

"Tabarnouche!" she yells after the train as it vanishes down the tunnel.

Well. Maybe it didn't intend to slow down. The sound of the train rumbling away distorts as it enters the tunnel. Nearly everything on the far end of the platform has slowed, people moving like they're underwater, an odd dreamlike effect to half the subway station. The rear door of the just-departed train opens where it's stalled inside the tunnel. Hanging out of its back end is a tall Black teenager wearing a silver-and-green cape and mask and a wide grin. "Hey," he calls, brightly, "you miss your ride?