Logs:Of Parties and Perception (Or, Small Gifts)

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Of Parties and Perception (Or, Small Gifts)
Dramatis Personae

Gaétan, Harm, K.C., Kavalam, Kelawini, Marinov, Naomi


"September 23 birthday. Who knew."


<XAV> Rec Room - Xs Second Floor

School this may be, but life for Xavier's students certainly isn't all studying. Outside classes, this is a popular spot to find students in their downtime. An enormous tribute to slacking off, this room is a wealth of fun and relaxation.

Comfortable armchairs, couches, and beanbags offer plentiful seating scattered throughout the room, and the cushioned windowseats by the high windows offer a cozy nook to curl up and look out on the grounds.

The room is often filled with the noises of gaming -- whether it comes from the big-screen television (tall racks of DVDs beside it, if nothing can be found on the multitude of cable channels), tricked out with consoles from retro to the latest releases, or the less electronic clatter and thump of the pool table, air hockey, or foosball. For those a little more subdued in their gaming, the cabinets hold stacks and stacks of board and card games, ranging as classic as chess and go to as esoteric as Dixit, Catan, and Gloom.

More days than not, there's some variety of snacks to be found on a table beside the gaming cabinet -- quite often in the form of fresh-baked desserts.

The rec room has been decorated in sunset colored streamers, bunting, and even fake paper leaves in brilliant autumn colors. There are apple cider cupcakes with cinnamon frosting laid out on the treat table, along with soda and pitchers of apple cider, which perhaps is responsible at least somewhat for how many kids have been streaming in and out of the party despite the birthday enby not being among the most popular in school. Harm is dressed up today, in a purple dragon brocade mandarin collar tunic with pink and red frog buttons, and black pants in the same brocade pattern, their hair recently trimmed to keep the bangs out of their eyes, although it's still longish, hanging amost to chin-length. They're sitting cross-legged on the couch with a recently unwrapped box open in their lap, pulling out a boxed set of little toy race cars. "I guess my grandparents don't know how old I am, but at least they're trying with the gender...thing?"

Kavalam is perched on the arm of the chair, barefoot and in jeans, a soft maroon sweater, a cup of cider held in one hand. For once he's readily noticeable -- if not readily identifiable, easily outstripping Harm in an antipopularity contest if only for how few people around the school could even summon up the boy's name. His smile is muted at the emergence of the cars, but the amusement in his voice is genuine. "They remembered. That is something. I used to quite like those. I bet they could still be fun. You can make all kinds of pretend with them."

Marinov has just come through the door, a small box tucked under their arm, and their ears up at alert as they move through to offer a gift in simple blue wrapping paper. "Yeah, race cars are great, I love shit like that. Wonder what those tiny racers are up to." Their pants are a cream-white with several buttons down the front, which look like they are tucked into a leatherette belt around their calves, though it is more likely a part of the pants themselves to simulate the look of being tucked into boots for a bootless individual. Their top is long sleeved in a light tan, with some frill around the shoulders, with an orange collar. Their eyes pause momentarily towards Kavalam and they say, "You look familiar... you must have started not long ago. You're-" and here Marinov's eyes widen as they are unable to find a name. "Ra-" Their eyes widen further as they just press on before their brain is ready, and unable to stop speaking. "-jarshi. Fuck! No... Shit. I'm usually so good at names. I'm sure there's an 'a' sound. You don't even look like- Sorry, man, I'm blanking." The insides of their ears have turned red, and they mumble as a half-hearted recovery, "Happy birthday, Harm."

"Yeah, matchbox cars are always solid." Gaétan, admittedly, is barely watching the unboxing; he's flopped on the floor in front of the sofa, one arm crossed over his chest and his knees crooked up toward the ceiling, his bass currently abandoned on the floor beside him. He waves his half-eaten cupcake in Marinov's direction as they enter, presumably in solidarity with their pro-racecar position. "Going fast is almost as good as taking it easy."

Naomi has been lingering just down the hall for a little bit now, hands curled around a small plain paper bag. She takes a deep breath, knocks on the doorframe, waves at the group. “Hi, yall.” She beelines past Gae and Marinov straight to Harm, holds out the gift. “Heard it were your birthday, an’ I wanted to apologize for getting defensive when you called me out the other day, an’...” she trails off. “Um, it ain’t much but it’s for you.” She holds the bag out, glancing at Marinov and their conversation partner to avoid eye contact.

"Kavalam," Harm supplies helpfully if belatedly, blushing in sympathy with Marinov. "He's my roommate. And thank you!" They turn the box over excitedly. They set aside the gift from their grandparents, though not before plucking the bow off of the wrapping paper and sticking it crookedly on their head. "You all make great points! I never had these growing up, I guess it's not too late to catch up." They tense visibly when Naomi enters, but manage a smile anyway even while distinctly avoiding eye contact. "Hey, thank you. I mean -- for the present and the..." They trail off, blushing, clearly nervous. "Um, Mr. Holland made cupcakes, they're really great and you're welcome to one." The awkwardness isn't, however, stopping them from opening both Marinov's and Naomi's presents.

Kavalam's eyes open big-wide when Naomi enters. He lets Harm handle his introductions, his gaze briefly fixed; his cheeks flush a moment later, and he hastily looks down at his drink. "Yes. Right. I am. Roommate. I started last year. I am very forgettable. I am trying not to be." His shoulders are a little tenser than before, but when he looks up again it's with a new curiosity, head tilting to the side when Naomi apologizes.

"Last year? Fuck, sorry. Really? I'll... try and get it right next time," says Marinov apologetically. "Kavalam. Kavalam?" They try and pronounce it two different and slightly incorrect ways. "I, uh, look forward to not forgetting you as much?" they say uncertainly in response to the latter part. They scratch their neck awkwardly and look down to the floor, but perk up a little bit when Harm starts to open their gift, which is a beanie which fades from colour to colour in a rainbow spiral up to the top. "Uh, the first time we really talked, you were making warm socks with these kinds of colours. Figured maybe you'd want something that'd match those and keep your ears warm when it's chilly. But if you don't like it, I can work on something else for you, no big deal."

Naomi frowns, glancing sideways at Marinov’s conversation partner with a confused expression. She gives a little wave to the two of them, but stays where she is, vibrating nervously as Harm takes the gifts. She takes a step back as Harm opens Marinov’s gift, her eyes going wide. “Marinov, that’s cool as hell.” She bites her lip. “Mine sorta the same vein, cuz I remember you knittin’ at Pure Life, an’ I had an old sweater, real nice but too small, so I uh, looked up how to unknit it.” She gestures to the bag- inside, a center-pull ball of burnt orange yarn, worsted. “I know y’all don’t like me much, but I think your cool, an’ you could make somethin cool outta that.” She’s staring at the floor, turns suddenly on her heel. “Happy birthday, I’ll see y’all ‘round.” Without waiting for permission, she walks out - not before grabbing a cupcake, though

"They'll like it," Gaétan says confidently. "Man, I'm sensing a whole theme here. Maybe I should've gone more -- cosy." He downs the rest of his cupcake, licking his fingers clean as he rolls himself upright. "We're getting to a very cosy sort of season." His brows scrunch in, and he squints over at Kavalam. "Forgettable? Kinda harsh on yourself, dude. I'm sure you're cool."

Harm's eyes widen as they open Marinov's box. "Oh! Yeah, I do love it, and it goes perfectly with that set -- I have a scarf like that for this winter, too." They take the bow off of their head, pull on the beanie -- then put the bow on the beanie. "Thank you!" The pull out the yarn, nodding happily, "I can work with this." They do meet Naomi's eyes once, before the girl turns to flee. "Thank you, too. I always need more yarn." But to Gaétan they shake their head. "No, no, I mean -- I do like cosy, but the song is perfect." They glance over at Kavalam, "Oh, it's not because he isn't cool! It's just --" They break off, covering their mouth with one hand. "Sorry, I don't know if it's ok to say."

K.C. is not at the party. Not really; she's been across the room, tucked over in the windowseat with Suga Mama curled up (cosily!) at her feet, in baggy black sweater with a rainbow band across the chest and equally baggy jeans, head thumped against the window. Her eyes are staring off in front of her, fingers twitching at the air where they have been for quite some time now. But, abruptly, she looks up, looks over. "Kavalam Neelakantan. Personal antimemetic field. What's that." Another small twitch. Her toes scrunch into the large dog's fur. "September 23 birthday. Who knew."

"Kavalam," Kavalam corrects this reflexively, putting the emphasis in the right places, this time. "And it means I'm forgettable." There's a slightly darker tinge to his cheeks which he is only half-successful in hiding behind a gulp of cider. "Everyone knew. We're at a party, no?" Very glibly, his hand spreading toward the streamers, the gifts. "Did you make that hat? It is lovely. And the song. Everyone here has such talent."

"Kavalam," Marinov repeats, this time mimicking his emphasis. They nod a couple of times. "Yeah, I made the hat, thanks! And... wait, it's a double birthday? You have a whole birthday... dorm room? Pretty festive!" They look over towards K.C. and remark, "I should change my birthday to match yours. Or... wait, mine's sooner, we should do that the other way around so we can do that before graduating."

"We did kind of notice the party," Gaétan agrees, but then looks over at Kavalam with a lift of brows. "Wait, it's your birthday? When did that happen?" His palm scrubs at his cheek uncertainly. "Are we talking like there-is-no-antimemetic-division kind of field? Cuz you're right here." His eyes dart to K.C. "How do you know all this?"

Harm sits up straighter. "Oh no! I didn't even --" They glance at Kavalam. "Wait, I guess probably I did know, but then forgot." They blush. "I've gotten a lot of new yarn -- maybe I can knit you something." At Gaétan's question they frown, looks over at Kavalam again, thoughtfully. "He has to turn it off."

Kelawini saunters in dressed in a black cropped denim jacket over a purple babydoll shirt with an abstract flame graphic in reds, oranges, and yellows on the chest, red skinny jeans, and chunky black ankle boots. She's carrying a tray from the kitchen with a plate of vadai, a crock of sambar, and a bowl of payasam. "There you are!" She smiles bright and wide when she spots Kavalam. "I shoulda just texted you, but I didn't expect..." She looks at the laden table, then down at the tray in her hands. Then, shrugging, brings it to him anyway. "Well, sorry I'm late to the party, but happy birthday!"

"Your birthday," K.C. agrees with a nod to Marinov, "Fall is better. Soup birthday. Crunchy leaves birthday. Better." Her head is starting to bob at this, though it slows at Gaétan's question. "I know all this." Kelawini's arrival prompts her back into silence, eyes drifting back to the window.

Kavalam's head wobbles from one side to the other. "Something like that. It happened sixteen years ago, I imagine. And I --" He breaks off when Kelawini arrives, his eyes opening very wide. One hand flies to his mouth, and he stares up at her -- down at the food -- up at her. There's a brightness welling up in his eyes that does not take long to spill over, smudging his glasses and streaking his cheeks. "Oh," is all he manages, when he finally drops his hand, and again, softer, "oh."

"Mm, yeah, all those autumn colours, nice and cozy," says Marinov, "And the best kinds of jackets in season!" They look towards Kelawini and step aside when she appears to offer a tray. They sniff the air lightly and seem a little confused over this sudden surge of emotion.

"Antimemetic," K.C. offers from her corner, still staring out the window. "Very forgettable."