Logs:Pretty Messed Up

From X-Men: rEvolution
Pretty Messed Up
Dramatis Personae

Flicker, Polaris, Wendy, Jamie

2019-07-22


"It'll only take me a minute to mop the floor with this fucking traitor." (Set in the Blackburn Prometheus facility.)

Location

Blackburn Research Facility - Cafeteria


The sign by the door says "Refectory", though the "R" has at some point in the past been re-written with a permanent marker to a "D", and then been subject to a half-hearted attempt at cleaning. It's one of the larger rooms on this level, tiled with the same variegated pea-green linoleum throughout, its walls clean but bare of any decoration or relief for the eyes. The floor space is mostly taken up with long, rectangular tables with attached bench seating, a stainless steel counter at one end serving up bland, often overcooked, but reasonably nutritious food day in and day out. The acoustics are awful in here, rendering mealtimes loud and the occasional fights that break out here even louder.

Dinner is an uninspiring affair, to nobody's great surprise. Flicker hasn't taken very much of it, today. A bowl of some sort of chicken and rice soup, some juice. His tray is wobbly as he makes his way to a seat at a sparsely populated table. He's slow as he takes his seat -- which still, ultimately, doesn't stop the unsteadiness as he sets the tray down, the cup tipping over and spilling a pool of apple juice across the table. One of his eyes is already squinted shut, the product of a large bruise spread dark and puffy across one side of his face. The other briefly closes on mild resignation before he stands right back up again.

Jamie is trailing closely after Flicker, as is often his pattern these days, when he is present for meals at all.Though not bruised and battered like his companion, he looks profoundly exhausted, his shoulders hunching in and his head hanging. He flinches when the cup tips over, and sets down his own tray clear of the spreading juice puddle, handing Flicker the napkins he had brought. "I'll go get more," he offers softly, though his darting eyes betray some anxiety at the prospect of trekking across the cafeteria alone.

Wendy has been drifting through the cafeteria, her plate laden -- potatoes, bread rolls, a salad heavily dosed with oily dressing, two fruit cups. She freezes as she looks to Flicker and Jamie, her eyes widening. It takes her a moment to gather herself. Moving in to set her tray down and add her own napkins to the cause, sopping up what's left of the juice on the table, though her are darting between Jamie and her own companion.

At Wendy's side, Polaris looks uncharacteristically subdued, her hair tied back into a loose ponytail and her eyes more heavily shadowed than usual. She starts from some reverie when they arrive at the table, and donates her napkins, as well. "Shitty day, huh?" she asks, looking up at Flicker's face with a sympathetic wince. Then she follows Wendy's gaze and freezes in place, staring at Jamie. "You," she says through gritted teeth, her hand clenching into a fist around the napkins. "I knew it felt off, I knew it." Her eyes have gone wide, pupils dilating, her breath coming quicker.

"Thanks." Flicker blushes deep, taking the napkins to help sop up the mess. "I don't usually -- I'm usually not so --" He breaks off. Looks between Jamie and Polaris. His brow furrows with concern. "You've -- met. I'm sorry, should we go?"

Jamie had just begun to step away, but hesitates when the two women arrive, his own eyes going wide and fixing on Wendy in desperate entreaty. When Polaris addresses him he puts up both of his hands, taking a small step back. "I - - I'm sorry, I didn't want to, but they --" He glances at Flicker, then closes his mouth tight. Draws a deep breath. "You don't have to. I'll go."

Wendy's eyes skip from the others at the table over to the guards near the door. Then back. She rights the downed cup and drops the bundle of soggy napkins on Flicker's nearly-empty tray. "We're all a little bit off, in here." She reaches for Polaris's hand, half holding it, half gently prying at her fingers to get at the napkins she holds. "We've met. We might need a minute."

Polaris hasn't taken her eyes off of Jamie, but her fist unclenches at Wendy's prompting. "Yeah, it'll only take me a minute to mop the floor with this fucking traitor." She takes a step toward Jamie, then glances quickly at Flicker. "Did you know? He might be eating down here with us now, but Number One here is a Prometheus lapdog. What's the matter? Mommy Messer got a new favorite?"

Flicker doesn't immediately answer. He nudges the wet napkins to one corner of his tray, his palm pressing down to the table. "His name is Jamie." His voice is quiet, but firm. "And I do know -- some of what Dr. Messer did to him." He's watching the others carefully, though he doesn't actually make any moves toward any of them. "We took down that lab last month. She's here now, too."

Jamie drops his gaze and keeps his hands up, but does not continue backing away as Polaris approaches. "I'm sorry," he says again, less frantically. "I know that doesn't make anything okay, and you have every right to be angry." He glances aside at Flicker. "But yeah, she's here," he echoes quietly, "and she's not my friend, either."

"She's here?" Wendy's voice is briefly a little bit sharper. Her hand tightens around Polaris's, her eyes a little wider. She eases off a moment later, shaking her head. She takes the napkins that Polaris had been holding, leans over to pour a little water from her own cup onto them and wipe the last sticky residue from the table. "He wasn't -- just a lapdog," she says quietly to Lorna. "That woman brainwashed him."

"You raided Hofstadter?" Polaris suddenly returns her attention fully to Flicker, a feverish gleam in her hazel eyes. The grip that answers Wendy's is almost painfully tight, but she lets go when the other woman pulls away. "Good fucking riddance. Everyone get out alive?" Though now she frowns, and when she glances back at Jamie she looks more perplexed than angry, if only by degrees. Finally, she shakes her head. "Alright. Alright, so are you like...not brainwashed anymore?" Her voice is still tight, her eyes still wary as she searches Jamie's face.

"We did," Flicker confirms with a small nod. "Maybe a month ago. Maybe -- more by now." His eyes flick briefly to Jamie. "Everyone -- else got out alive." His cheeks have flushed faintly again. He doesn't actually sit properly back down, but he eases his knee back onto the seat he'd been in.

"Month and a half," Jamie supplies, slowly lowering his hands to pluck at the hem of his scrubs. "I refused to go with them. Because --" He tips one hand toward Wendy. "-- of the whole brainwashing thing." His voice is carefully neutral, and he hazards a quick glance at Polaris's face. "I'm pretty sure I'm still brainwashed. It took..." His shoulders hitch slightly, and he swallows. "...it took a lot. For me to realize it. And even when I did..." He shakes his head.

"Was that how you got caught?" Wendy looks to Flicker with a small wrinkle of brow. She does actually take her seat now. "What did she -- do to you? I only knew --" She shakes her head, curling her hands around her water glass. "Well. Your head was pretty messed up. That probably doesn't get sorted overnight."

"You refused --" Polaris sucks in a deep breath, holds it, and lets it out. "Right. Brainwashing. This is not like some movie where you get knocked upside the head, the glowy eyes go out, and you just -- shake it off." She finally settles next to Wendy, pulling her tray to her but not eating. "I know it'd be dangerous, but --" Her voice drops to a bare hiss, her left hand closing into a fist. "-- if you let up your thing at the right place and right time..." She trails off, frowning deeper, and shakes her head. Her voice practically trembles with quiet intensity. "Do you even want out?"

Flicker relaxes minutely when Polaris sits, lowering himself back into his seat as well. "Hm? Oh --" His head ducks, eyes dropping to examine his soup with unnecessary intensity. "No, I got caught a couple weeks later. Some place in Ohio." He lifts his eyes back to Polaris, nodding. Picks up his spoon, his voice dropping low. "Yeah. At the right time, it could be critical. Unfortunately --" Now he looks to Jamie, something plaintive in his eye. "-- it'll be most helpful if they still. Kind of trust you until then. I get that might be way too much to ask -- considering."

Jamie only sits after all the others have done so, eyes shifting to fix on the table where the apple juice had spilled. "I don't know. Some of it I don't even remember. Some of it just seemed like talking, but I can see that how I reacted to it didn't make sense. Some of it was just..." He bites his lower lip. "Being in my life. When no on else was." Something in his posture eases when he glances aside at Flicker, and only then is it obvious just how tense he had still been before, even sitting down. "I do want out, now," he replies very softly, "I want -- to get everyone out." His eyes have returned to the table, but there's a touch more confidence in his near-whisper now. "They still trust me, and I can -- try to keep it that way." He looks Polaris in the eyes for the first time, very briefly. "I know your powers well, but so do they. If you don't have a plan --" His eyes skip to Wendy. "-- if we don't have a plan? Chances are they'll just kill you on the spot."

"There's a lot of people here who don't. Want to get out." Wendy takes a sip of her water. "No. That's not the right -- they just don't think we can. But I think our living legend here might be able to help, with that." Pauses a moment over her food before picking up her fork to start nibbling at it. "If you convince enough people we're serious -- we'll have a good number of eyes up there. I can get people a mental list of the things they should be keeping an eye on -- once we know they're on board." She chases a cherry tomato around her plate, only finally spearing it once it fetches up against her potatoes. "It's still percolating. But we'll have a plan."