Logs:Of Ramen and Recruitment (Or, All Each Other's Problem)

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Of Ramen and Recruitment (Or, All Each Other's Problem)
Dramatis Personae

Gaétan, Kavalam, Roscoe

2023-06-13


"Breaking out of Prometheus is only liminally illegal."

Location

<PRO> Cell, Lassiter Research Facility - Ohio


The staff calls them "rooms", but they're prison cells. This is a standard one, small though not claustrophobic, and the door with its single narrow reinforced glass window locks from the outside. The walls are off-white and the floor is the same multi-gray linoleum that plagues the rest of the facility, at least the parts the subjects get to see. There are two small desks with attached shelves, two twin XL beds, and a stainless steel sink/toilet combo in the center of the far wall. The inset overhead lights are cool white LEDs that make everything look kind of sterile and washed out, and are controlled by the staff from outside.

Roscoe is careful to shut the door before he pounces. He has no qualms, apparently, about attacking Kavalam while his back is closed; as he's a little short to just put him in a headlock, he executes a somewhat graceless tackle-takedown that would get him extremely disqualified in point karate.

Unfortunately for Kavalam, this is not point karate and Roscoe has no obligation to let him back up once he's mimed one punch, which he pulls back just short of Kavalam's face. Instead, he pokes him on the cheek with one finger and says, "Gimme a ramen too." He doesn't try to sound tough -- probably he realized sometime last year that's simply not happening -- just very matter-of-fact. Adds, almost as an afterthought, "Uh... chicken."

Was Kavalam actually expecting the attack he in fact specifically invited Roscoe to deliver him? Probably not, because he's topple-falling just as gracelessly to the floor with an undignified sound caught somewhere between a squeak and a yelp. His subsequent wriggle-flailing is informed by Zero Years of Karate, and he has in no way extricated himself from this predicament when the punc... poke?? comes. His eyes widen and this time it's definitely a squeak, startled probably far more than he would have been with an actual punch. A little more lackluster in his Escape Attempts than before he realized no beatdown was imminent, he squirms and looks imploringly over to Gaétan's side of the room. "We need two ramens."

Gaétan has been sprawled on his bed, frowning up at a copy of Danielle Steel's Safe Harbour which he's been holding above his head. He only flicks a brief glance to the door when it opens, and quickly enough returns to the pages of the book. Roscoe's tackle doesn't actually draw his eyes away again, though the small amused tug at his lips very much suggests he's noticed -- he doesn't sit up at Kavalam's squeaks, either, but does lower the book at the demand for ramen. "This is not a very effective shakedown." Except it absolutely is, because he's sliding out of his bed to rummage around beneath it and emerge with Two Ramens. One is chicken and one is shrimp; both get tossed down toward the heap-o-teenager on the floor.

Roscoe grins at Kavalam's squeak, cheeks dimpling; the grin broadens when he glances up to see his cellmate caving. "I'm not gonna fight you," he explains to Gae, as he reaches out to snatch up both cups-o-noodle. "Like, what would that prove?" He glances down at the labels and hands one to Kavalam getting back to his feet, holding out a hand to pull Kavalam up as well. "Kavalam says I get all your contraband when you get transferred. By the way."

"Who is getting transferred, his mother would stab someone with a stiletto heel." Kavalam takes the shrimp ramen first and Roscoe's hand second, then wanders over to the sink to turn it on. Let it run. And run. And run. He's staring at it while it does, as if enough watching will make it get Painfully Hot even faster. "I told him we would pay him with ramen if he would be a tour guide." Maybe that's not exactly how the dinner conversation not ten minutes ago went and yet.

Gaétan puts his book down, at this. He sits up on the bed, leaning back against the wall with one leg propped up. "Been a great tour guide already. You hiking your fees?" Hes setting the book face-down on the mattress, elbow draped over his crooked knee. "When I get out of here," his voice is as neutral-bland as ever but the small shift in phrasing is probably not accidental, "you're welcome to whatever."

Is Roscoe hiking his fees? He's nodding as though this is an unfortunate but necessary business decision he's defending to the press -- "Inflation, man," he says, dropping into his own bed and peeling the paper top off his ramen, letting it flop open by styrofoam hinge. "Cool," he says. "I was gonna just help myself anyway, but cool. You're lucky you got all that money. Hey --" this is tangential; he points with his cup-o-noodle, one finger extended slightly. "You gotta buy that girl glasses. Echo. She's basically blind, how long you think she can keep going like this?"

"I can pay for glasses no problem, but I can't force them to make her an appointment with the eye doctor." Gaétan's brow has creased at this, his mouth twisting to the side. "... I'll lean on my mom, maybe she can yell at the right shitfucks." His fingers drum slowly against his knee, and his head rolls -- a languid stretch of neck, maybe, eyes not-quite-settling on Kavalam before shifting away to the ceiling. "Only has to keep going till we get out of here. Might be faster with your help."

"You're lucky you got your mom on your side, too," says Roscoe, who is occupying himself with shoving his sad thin blanket and sad thin pillow into the corner to lean up against. He glances back at Gaétan with a furrowed brow -- now he's paying attention to the phrasing. "Getting out of here, huh," he says, unimpressed. "All of you? I can't even get myself out of here, and I actually have a release date."

"You've got a release date," Gaétan says wryly, "how much have you really tried?" One of his shoulders hitches. "This place is big as hell. All Of Us isn't so many, if you look at --" His wrist flexes, hand waving vaguely in a wider expansive gesture. "We have a plan. We're making a plan. The release dates they give half these people are fake as hell, aren't they? But they're not even pretending to give any of us one so we kinda gotta make our own, I don't want to wait around and find out what happens to someone like Spence or fucking Echo when --" His head shakes, sharp.

"Hey, I'm putting a lot of effort in here." This reproach is mostly a joke, probably, but Roscoe's face is serious and troubled; he kicks off his shoes to sit criss-cross-applesauce, fiddling idly with his noodle cup in his hands. After a moment he passes it to Kavalam to fill with hot water from the sink-toilet. It's not until he gets it back that he speaks again, staring fixedly at the thin stream of steam riding from below the paper lid. "Yeah, okay," he says, with a twitch of his shoulders not quite casual enough to constitute a shrug. "In here, you know, we're all each other's problem, a little. Right? Just…" he lifts his chin slightly to look first at Gae, then at Kavalam. "It just better be a good plan this time, okay?"

"Yeah. I guess we are." Gaétan is silent for a while, after this, and in contrast to his usual diffidence this time it is clear he is contemplating. Clear why, too, at length when he says quietly: "We have a way to bring the grid down." His fingers clench in tighter around his knee, nail scraping slow against the thin weft of his scrubs. "Obviously, they'll get it back up and obviously, that trick only works once. We gotta make sure we have all the pieces in place before we light that fucking bomb, you know. But lighting it means a whole lot of chaos, there's what -- how many fucking mutants in here with what kind of power and what kind of anger. And we've been talking to people --" His teeth scrape slow against his lower lip. "In that kind of chaos, slipping a few kids out isn't as crazy. But yeah. We don't want to move until shit's ironclad. They plan for everything around here, so we gotta, too. But you -- you know shit. You see shit. If we saw the things you see, we'd plan a lot better."

Roscoe's eyebrows shoot up -- he looks back at Gae with -- no small amount of skepticism, but no small amount of awe. "The grid," he says. "Shoot. Okay." He nods slowly. "I mean," he says. "I can't see everything. And I can't show you what I see either. Actually the U.S. Military is really sad that I can't do that." But he looks at Kavalam, then at Gae, then back at his ramen cup, as though he's forgotten he was holding it. He takes a sip of the broth. "Yeah, okay," he says again; this time his shrug and his nonchalant tone are a little more convincing, though his face is pinched in a sad frown. "Leave me the ramen when you go."

"Fff. Sure." This time Gaétan's pause is even longer. "Look, if we all get out, you can sure as hell come with." There's a heavy but pulling at his words. It half seems like it's pulling at him, too, dropping his head to thunk back against the wall. He chews at the inside of his cheek, and glances back over to Kavalam. "The plan we're making," he dredges up from somewhere beneath this weight, "the plan we've been making with the others is to try and get as many of us out as we can, in the chaos. Gonna be a lot of chaos. Between us, though, I think the plan that's got a real solid shot is get him out," he nods to Kavalam, "and he tells Spence's dad's crazy-ass team where we are. If anything gets messed, that's the plan my money's on. His entire deal is slipping between the cracks so if we make him a crack -- can you help him slip it."

"The very-very big problem." Kavalam's voice is flat. He has filled his ramen and is tapping a plastic spoon lightly against its unpleasantly dampish waxy lid. "Is that if the plan works, none of you will know it, ya? I disappear from here -- and all your minds. Maybe the help arrives. Maybe I crash on the highway." His brows lift. He doesn't smile. "At least you won't be staying up the nights with wondering."

Roscoe manages a tight grin, but he's shaking his head -- "I can't break out of jail," he says. "Super illegal. My mom would kill me." He takes another sip of broth, slurping up a few noodles this time and then wiping his mouth and chin with the back of one hand. "Just Kavalam?" he says, looking from Gae to Kavalam for confirmation. "After all that shit Spencer talks about the buddy system -- man, your power is bullshit." For a moment he seems to be mulling on this, his mouth pulled to one side; his head droops against the wall too, but soundlessly. His gaze is still trained on Kavalam. "You're not telling the others about this?" he says skeptically.

"Pff. Breaking out of Prometheus is only liminally illegal. It's like a breaking out of jail loophole, my brother and pretty much all his friends did it and they totally did not care. Kinda egg on their face, honestly, because Prometheus is only liminally legal." Gaétan only sounds slightly bitter about this. The bitterness has bled out of his voice after, a faint puff of almost-laughter in his voice. "You've met Spence, yeah?" His hands turn up a little helplessly. "He's good. I really love that about him. Everyone's been through hell dimensions and genocide camps and I think maybe it's kinda cool to have someone who's actually fighting for everyone for once, you know? That stuff's important, too."

"Besides of which, maybe telling them would be a --" Kavalam has lowered his eyes to his noodles. He's stirring at them slowly, his fingers tight around his spoon. "Cruelty," he lays down, setting the word quiet into the steam. "Tell them the real plan and, what. All of these weeks of so very much work would be --" His fingers close around the faint wisps of vapor rising from his soup, open again on nothing. "Maybe this plan gets some of them out. Maybe this plan feels cathartic. Maybe this plan gives the guards a bad day, maybe this plan breaks up the boredom. Maybe this plan lets someone off the worst of the guards and they earn some respect for a while. Maybe this plan gives them something to remember."

"Gay," says Roscoe, in a mutter, almost at the same time Kavalam speaks. He isn't looking; he's dropped his gaze back to his own noodles, his own wisps of nothing. For a long moment he doesn't say anything. "Or," he says, finally, "Maybe it works."