Logs:Of Performances and Prizefights (Or, Spencer Fucking Holland)
|Of Performances and Prizefights (Or, Spencer Fucking Holland)
"That was awesome. Dinner and a show."
The cafeteria is single the largest room in this wing, tiled with the same multi-gray linoleum throughout, its walls clean but bare of any decoration or relief for the eyes. The floor space is mostly taken up by rectangular tables with attached if often creaky bench seating, with a long stainless steel counter at one end serving up bland, often overcooked, but reasonably nutritious food day in and day out. It's noisy and crowded here at mealtimes, but no so much that it's impossible to have a table to yourself. Or be exiled to your own table.
Adjoining the cafeteria but still accessible from its own entrance in the hallway is the much smaller commissary. It's an awkward room divided by an L-shaped counter, behind which are rows and rows of shelves holding labelled bins. Basic hygiene items can be requisitioned here for free, but everything else, from personal care products to snacks and beverages, must be purchased. Given the limited options in paying work details, purchased commissary items are coveted luxuries.
Dinner is only just beginning, but already the influx of inmates has been slowed. The source of the slowdown is -- well, it would be a stretch to call it a fight; Rainy Ogden has brought his bad temper in to the mess hall with him and is taking it out on Naomi. At a table not far off, Kavalam is wincing -- maybe at the racist epithets the tin man is hurling? Maybe at the noisy clatter of Naomi's dinner tray as it falls to the ground? No, he's watching the guards make their exit at the first sight of Impending X-Kid Beatdown with an unhappy grimace. "Tags was meant to be guard shift today, no? Martin will be harder to keep distracted."
Sitting beside Kavalam, narrow shoulders hunched, Harm is definitely wincing at Rainy's predictable and necessary overtures toward violence. Their eyes are very wide and do not get any less wide when they reflexively follow the direction Kavalam is looking. "Should someone else go and help...?" They are not volunteering, though, just anxiously pushing their spaghetti around the plate.
Gaétan is, for once, not making his meal out of commissary luxuries in his room. He doesn't actually seem to be making any meal at all currently -- the fruit cups with today's meal are prized and maybe it wouldn't do to distract from the first beatdown by tempting someone to offer him a second. As such he's empty-handed as he slips into the cafeteria and drops down onto the bench across from Kavalam. "Spot two on Spence and Beau," he's saying, quiet, and, "-- go," as a moment later Spence and Beau march into the room. After this he's adding with a very small huff: "Eh. Guards'll be alright. Even defrosted Avi can make himself enough of a nuisance for a couple minutes, I believe in him." His voice is bland but Harm and Kavalam, at least, can clock the apprehension in the small twist of his lips to one side, the small flick of his glance to Naomi and Rainy: "This shouldn't take more than a minute." The '... right?' is left implied.
"The average length of a street fight is twenty seven seconds," Kavalam says with the firm assurance of someone incorrectly remembering something he learned from TikTok in the first place, "-- but most street fights I think are not so much between --" He has been rolling his meatballs off to the side of his plate and now gestures with his fork in the direction of Rainy and
Nevaeh is kneeling on her bench for a better view of the action. "Why isn't Spence helping? He's just standing there." She can't seem to decide whether to sound disapproving of his inaction or skeptical that it would make any different if he were doing more. "What if Rainy's guys jump in to help him?"
"What do you mean 'gender'?" Harm says, not tearing their eyes from the fight but imbuing their voice with wide-eyed vibes. "I'm just a normal girl, I don't even know what pronouns are." Their shoulders ease a little once Lael has pulled Naomi out of Rainy's reach, not that the metal man was likely to have any attention to spare for the Winterses now. They flinch hard at the exchange of blows, though, hands clamping the edge of the table like they're getting ready to get up. Or stopping themselves from doing so. "They mostly only do that if they think it'll be an easy fight."
"Having a gender, you know," Gaétan is informing Harm promptly, "like a plan of action, a list of shit to get done. Cementing your jail rep. Sodomizing your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity. Stomping Painy Ogden into the ground. A gender. Think we're solid on that front." He's less dry when he shakes his head at Nevaeh. "They do not give a shit about Rainy, they give a shit about having someone tougher to hide behind. Second they don't think that's him anymore --" A brief grimace twists at his lips. "... should we be worrying about stray racists trying to join your crew? Maybe Spence should wear like, five kippahs, just to preempt that outcome." He's not not watching the fight, but he's watching Spence more. "... let's just hope he doesn't try to ad-lib."
"Talk about ad-libbing," Kavalam is watching Queen Bee make her dramatic entrance, the crowd part ways around her -- and the Winterses immediately soliciting her anger and concern. "Gaé, Naomi all this time she's been wasted in band, no? Get her on the stage." He is leaning forward, elbows propped on his knees and his eyes wide behind his glasses. He clicks his cheek distastefully as Gaétan speaks. "That would be going very off-script. I think we will be happy with crushing your sons into scrap metal." He seems less concerned with Spencer improvising: "Half the night we practiced his dismissive sneer. I gave him many mental pictures he could use. Just in case he started thinking more-anxiety less-derision. Let's only just hope Beau is as strong as we need him to be."
"He hasn't even said anything," Nevaeh says, thoughtful rather than critical. "Is it because he sounds too nice if he talks?" Then she adds, delicately, "...and too dorky." She's looking at Queen Bee, now. "But there's no point saying anything to Rainy. He wouldn't listen, and this isn't really even about Rainy."
Harm relaxes somewhat further when Queen Bee arrives, letting go of the table and just bracing their elbows on it now. "Band isn't a waste just because she would also be great onstage." They don't really sound inclined to argue, too pleased with Kavalam's praise to be all that indignant about the insult to Music. "I mean, it's not not about Rainy, but yeah. If Spence tried to talk trash it'd be all Star Wars quotes and physics puns sprinkled of critical race theory, so..." They nod approvingly. "You did a great job, Coach."
Nahida is just past Nevaeh, alternately grimacing at her spaghetti and trying (unsuccessfully) not to wince at the scrape-creak-crumple of metal. She does glance up -- brief -- at Naomi, though, her mouth twisting ruefully to the side. "-- She's already onstage."
There's a sharp glint of amusement in Gaétan's eyes -- at Kavalam's comment? At Nahida's? and though he's still watching Spence and Beau intently his reply comes immediate: "Wasted? You clearly haven't been listening to her play." He snaps his fingers, points -- ding, correct! -- at Nevaeh, his own addition far less delicate: "Bigass loser. He is a badass, but leaning in to badass -- not his forte." He doesn't wince, the next (last) time Rainy goes down, but, although the fight is clearly over, he's gotten just a hair more tense. Reaches over and plucks Kavalam's fruit cup off his tray -- not to eat it but to set it aside. "Were you timing?" He's not looking at Spencer, now.
"Twenty-seven seconds," Kavalam (who was definitely not timing) affirms. "Two days ago I would have said never, ever, but look -- if we get stuck in another hellworld, Beau is definitely invited to our apocalypse team." After bestowing this strong if undesirable praise on their current Champion, he is looking at Spencer. The cheer that has gone up around the room at Rainy's heavy collapse is long enough to hopefully somewhat obscure the delay on his own small and hastily-curtailed fistpump -- not at Rainy's toppling but at Spencer's imperious command to the quailing minions. "I am glad I did not take your bet, I would be out -- ayyo!" His swipe at Gaétan's pilfering is very halfhearted; evidently even without betting against Spencer he's still losing his dessert.
Harm's eyebrows lift up slightly and they give a small, maybe not fully conscious nod of appreciation. "Wow, that is pretty badass." But then they blush. "Don't tell him I was surprised! I doubt I could pull it off." Their mouth skews aside. "Too much gender for that, probably. Should we..." They're looking to the door, their briefly abandoned worry starting to creep back, though in a very lackadaisical way. "...have more faith in Avi, apparently! I should probably check on Beau, though. Punching that guy must hurt."
"Holy mackerel." Has Roscoe been in the cafeteria this entire time? His dinner is already gone; all he has left is the last syruppy mouthful of juice in his fruit cup, which he slurps down as he steps casually over the very end of the bench, where there's only barely enough room, and plops himself down. There's a gleam of something in his dark eyes -- caution, curiosity, maybe just open glee -- but it shutters into more typical don't-know-don't-care nonchalance when he says, "That was awesome. Dinner and a show."