2010-01-27: Breaking Barriers


Dallas_icon.jpg Jericho_icon.jpg

Summary: Jericho received an interesting note and has called Dallas in for a chat.

Date: January 27, 2010

Breaking Barriers

Rating: PG

Xavier Mansion - Danger Room

A product of Shi'ar technology, the room generates apparently solid, realistic imagery by manipulation high-resolution force fields and holograms. The walls and floor appear as a steel room until a program is turned on. Overhanging the room in the center is a control Room managing the room's mechanisms to oversee the exercise while ensuring the subject's safety.

Early daytime. Normally, this wouldn't be Dallas's time in the Danger Room, either with a squad or one on one with Addison if he has those classes. But, he's been called down for special training. The room is laid out in a basic obstacle course right now, with Jeri standing at the center, observing the layout to get a good view of it. Dr. Parker-Mayfair… as he's known in the school, is in an odd suit. It's blue and black with numbers on the sleeves and legs. The numbers are 9977.

Dallas enters, in his squad suit, and pauses, looking a bit surprised and wary. He's seen the doctor around the school but never interacted with him. The uniform gets a curious look. After a moment he says, "Dr. Parker-Mayfair? You needed me for something?"

"Yup. Heard you were looking for people that could give you a run for your money. People that know GOOD ways to help you become more than you are." Jeri is, ALSO, the school nutritionist and very skilled in the arts of weight training. "Thought I'd spend a little one on one time withya." He says with a grin, reaching behind his head to pull his hair back into a long tail. The gray streaks are only enunciated by the colorful costume. But, he does lead a squad, and this isn't the suit he leads them with. It's something else.

Dallas frowns faintly at that stress on 'good'. His expression goes guarded and careful, as though he's not trying to give anything away. Which is, of course, a give away in and of itself. He shrugs broadly. "Thanks, I guess. More training is always good." Within the limitations of who and what he is, his tone seems to say. He watches the older man carefully and finally asks, "Are we planning on doing this without powers?" Which is his delicate way of asking, 'You do know you could get hurt, right?' Apparently he doesn't know much about Jericho's own abilities.

"Nope. I don't train without powers unless I'm doing my specific powerless training." Jeri says with a shrug. "Danger Room. Lock door. No entrance." He calls out as he grins. "First, I want to test your maximums. Just to see with it is. With and Without. Then, we can work on other things. I'm wondering, honestly… the stronger you are SANS powers, if that magnifies the powered potential. It's that way with some mutants, so, it might be so. Which means I can teach you how to properly enhance your body mass. I'm a nutritionist and a weight trainer as well as a psycho." He says. And yes, he says it like that, with a broad grin. He DOES have, over in the corner, actual strength measuring devices.

Dallas nods dubiously. His expression still faintly worried. He says, "And if it turns out that I'm basically always going to be this weak? What then?" Most people wouldn't consider being able to lift a car when powered up 'weak'. He frowns and says, "I mean, I know enough to know that some people have the potential to develop useful muscle mass and some don't. And I've been reading enough to know that with mutants, actual muscle doesn't have a lot to do with power sometimes."

"But often, it does. That's the thing. You're ruling things out before you're even bothering trying them." Jeri says bluntly as he waves over to the machine in the corner. "Some people look for an easy way out first. Which makes it completely worthless. And weak? I highly doubt that. From what I've heard, you're over a ton. And that's hardly weak." He pauses a moment. "And sometimes, no matter how powerful you are, you get depowered and HAVE to deal with your natural self, so building that up is a good thing."

Dallas walks over to where he's directed and his his eyes widen and then narrow as the doctor hits the issue directly. Well, both, really. He pauses, obviously considering dissembling and then says, "Or maybe there isn't time to waste on waiting to see if I'm not actually too weak to be useful. And 'dealing with my natural self' is something I do everyday. I work out, run, practice and train. Every day. Which skirts around what the subtext was and Dallas knows that.

"And what's your workout regimen?" Jeri asks, looking at Dallas as he motions to the machine again. It takes on the appearance of a basic benchpress. "Maybe there's always time to learn to accept yourself as you are. Believe me. I had plenty of time to learn that." He takes a moment to pause. "And by the by… a lot of those treatments steal more from you than they give you." Apparently, he knows. He's just trying to be nice about it.

Dallas settles himself on the weight bench. "Unpowered? I do a general fitness routine in the morning, cardio, endurance, calisthenics, all of that. Weights four times a week. I bench about one sixty for sustained reps. About two hundred just for jerk and lift, if I don't mind hurting afterwards." Given his age and size, that's pretty good. More than his body weight. He gives Jericho a puzzled look at that last statement and says, "It isn't about what it gives me. It's what I have to give to the team. To the people who need me." And to his credit, he seems to believe it, even if that isn't really the only reason.

"Four times a week should be only three if you're doing the same types of body-building techniques each time. Otherwise, one of your workouts is useless. You need a full twenty-four hours between to give muscles proper time to rest and grow." Jeri says with a firm nod. "Other than that, seems like a sound routine. You probably just need more variance to help further. And Dallas, for a boy your age, that's exceptionally good. You shouldn't be worrying about putting out more." He pauses to listen to the last part. "You can only do what you can. The treatments you're looking into are not only unethical, but illegal and highly dangerous. Any of the ones that you've been looking at could easily kill you." He says, watching Dallas's technique to see how he does with the movement. "And a little hurt is always good. A good burn shows that you're doing it right." He starts figuring things mentally.

Dallas sighs and takes up the weights, going for slow, controlled lifts. In front of an audience, how much you lift is tempered by how smoothly you can lift it. His breathing is slow and steady as he starts a set of ten reps, speaking as he lowers the bar, pushing breath out as he lifts. "Maybe. And people are dying now because I'm not strong enough." His voice is flat on that. "Good isn't enough. I have to be stronger. More strength of body and will."

"Will, more power to you. Body, you have to do it right. And it's not because YOU're not strong enough, Dallas. You're only a teenager. You're not the world's savior. There are others out there fighting just as much as you are. But strength doesn't mean shit against demons." Jeri says with a sigh. Yes, he cursed. Why? It's more human. "For Demons, you need magic or non-physical powers. Most of them are armored too strongly for the likes of us to deal with if we have physical abilities like you and I do." He offers. "Trust me. I can't even save my own husband. So, while others are working on finding the right ways to deal with it, I protect you children… and my children."

Dallas frowns as he lifts, digesting that and finally he says, "It's not good enough." His voice has that flatly convinced tone that only the very young can achieve. He puts the weight bar back on the rest (without clanking, thank you very much) and sits up to stare at Jericho. "You don't get it. I was /right there/. And because I wasn't good enough, on any level, he beat me down and then lived to kill somebody who was worth more than either of us. Not to mention all those civilians." He shakes his head again. "I get what you're saying. I do. But I need to be better. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now. Well, a month ago, really. But I can't go back in time." He frowns deeply. "I /was/ stronger back home. But people here … they won't leave you alone. Or stay out of your head. Or just not stir things up. And it's all a distraction. A character flaw. Weakness. And that weakness is why I'm not good enough." He didn't mean to say that much but with Jericho taking it to a personal level, the floodgates just open.

"I don't see ANY weaknesses in you, right now, Dallas, other than the fact that you're showing signs of obsessive compulsive disorder." Jeri states, clearly and cleanly as he watches. "You won't listen when people tell you things that they've lived through and experienced. You can't do everything. You've only just grown into your mutation and you have to give it time to mature just like your body and mind need time to mature. The thing you're not realizing… is that this whole problem you're dealing with… the Inferno out there? The loss of lives? The capturing of people… it has nothing to do with you, Dallas. You're not the center of the universe. You can only handle what you can. Someone else can handle the rest. You need to just accept that you can't be the best. You can keep growing and keep building, but the methods you're researching will lead you down a very slippery slope to personal destruction. I can attest to this." He says, leaning against the wall and watching the student with tired eyes. "You're saying things like it's all because of you. It's not. You're coincidence." Harsh, yes. But accurate. "And there's something else you're not telling me. Something that's causing the root of all of these problems. What else is on your mind?"

Dallas shrugs and says, "It's all about me when I put myself in the middle of things. The whole thing? Not my fault. My responsibility, in part, because I can help. Or I should be able to. But not mine to deal with. The Lucas thing? That /was/ and /is/ my fault. My responsibility. And it doesn't matter how much time I've had or how old I am. The X-Men were saving the world twice a week by the time they were my age. The original team that is. Are they better than me? No. They just worked past their own problems and faults and did the job." At that terminal question, he scowls and says, "You wouldn't understand."

There's a moment before a laugh from Jeri. "No, they had a telepath coordinating their movements. We only have Addison and he has his faults that prevent him from being all Professor Xavier on us. Lucas is your fault? Really? Were you there when the demon offered him what he wanted? Were you there to tell him, 'No! Don't do it!'. Cause I certainly wasn't there for my husband, Dallas. The man I share my name with. The one I gave my life to and adopted a child with. The one that means everything and the world to me. But why wasn't I? It happened before trouble. And because I have my job to do, and he had his. I couldn't have known. I couldn't have been any better. And neither could you at the time." Jeri pauses a moment. "Try me. You wouldn't believe what I've been through. Thank goodness my family loosened up a little on Jet. I'm afraid the poor boy would have broken by now, otherwise."

Dallas sighs and says, "I wasn't able to beat him when he called me out." He stands, pacing nervously, giving Jericho a cryptic, appraising look. Finally he says, quietly, "You wouldn't understand because you don't see things the same way I do. Which is fine. For /you/. You don't want to be an X-Man in the field, right? I do. And I can't have …distractions. Personal stuff. Stuff that I was doing just /fine/ keeping in their box and out of my life until Topher dragged them out in front of the whole school. And then people just …knew. It's like I'm wearing a sign. And Lucas used that against me. And I /let/ him. It's like being sick. You have to get well. And if you get strong, you can just put things back in their boxes and hold them shut."

"I wouldn't have been able to beat him either. He controls radiation. I'm physical. You're taking it WAY too personally. I wouldn't send Wolverine up against Magneto and expect him to do well unless Magneto wanted him to." Jeri says, shaking his head. Then, that last statement. "Dallas, Dallas… you can't bottle up things that are in there. If you do, you're going to hurt your mind and your emotions." He says, moving to sit down as he waits. This is the dangerous part of things. "You have to stop fighting with yourself. That's only going to put a huge weakness in your mind that can be exploited. You have to accept who you are. Even if your friends don't, even if your family doesn't, you have to know and be comfortable with it. Otherwise, nothing else will ever work properly. And, you don't know how I see things. Who said I don't WANT to be an X-Man? You've never talked to me. You don't know my desires and goals. Maybe I do, and am just focussing on the kids for now. After all, I have two that are students."

Dallas growls, "It /was/ personal. You don't get it." He still paces restlessly, as though if the exit were available, he'd be headed for it. He pauses and says, looking faintly ashamed of himself for being too wrapped up in himself, "I knew about Eddie. Who else? And, um, I'm sorry to hear about your …husband." He says that last word with a great deal of hesitation and caution.

"Jared. And then there's Eddie's boyfriend Ricky. He's been staying with us, though when the college year begins, he's moving into the city." Jeri explains with a nod. "Signs are pointing to things we have in common, Dallas. Why is it so bad and so wrong?" He asks, simply. He nods at the sympathy, but there's nothing he can do about it. "The biggest way to get over that weakness is to understand it. To explore it and to find out more in a healthy, constructive way. Find someone your age to talk to. Someone that you can trust and that may share likes and dislikes that you do. Maybe you can open up a little. You'd be surprised how much having a healthy relationship can increase your ability to do what you need to do. A healthy, happy mindset makes it easier to do what you need to."

Dallas actually flinches at the word 'relationship' and his shadow pools around him a moment without him realizing he called it. It flows away, just as quickly. Apparently it's some kind of instinctive defensive reaction. He swallows and shakes his head, looking away. After a moment he says, "How much of what we say here is private? I mean really private. Not 'only your parents' or 'only Mr. Summers'. Because I know that you have to talk to them, if they ask questions."

"Ah, the difference here, is that I'm not Mr. Summers or the others. Unless it's something that would actually be dangerous to you or to other students, I am, by my oath, required to keep it confidential. I AM a doctor, Dallas. Before I'm anything else. Before I'm a husband, a father, or a teacher, I'm a doctor. My job is to take care of minds and keep them well." Jeri explains with a quick nod, noting the power usage, even accidentally. He isn't recording this session in the DR, either, so… "And no. I do not have to talk to them about some things. I'm here to help you."

Dallas sighs, still looking dubious. But if he can convince one person that he's not crazy for doing what he's planning, then maybe it's not really crazy. "Ok. Bear with me here. I know this sounds like the usual teenage crap, but I'm going someplace." His voice is level and reasonable sounding but stiff, as though he's trying to reach out on an adult level and isn't quite sure what he should sound like. "I pretty much had a life. And had a life planned ahead. School and then college and maybe sports. Or sports medicine, if that didn't work out. I'm not the biggest guy in the world. Or the smartest. But I've always been able to get things done by just /doing/ them. Keep running into that wall until the wall breaks, you know?"

Dallas glances at Jericho and then away again. "So when I started figuring out that I … um, like what I like, I kept it locked down. That stuff doesn't play in a locker room. People will never accept you. You turn into a joke. In school and later. So I just kept it under control. Even after I turned out to be a mutant too. That changed /everything/. Shut down my life. But I could still be an X-Man. Still be a leader. Still keep my family, because hey, I was the same guy they knew before. Just with a genetic thing, you know? But when you stack them together? Who am I, then? Not the Dallas my family knew. Not the person I wanted to /be/. You see?"

"Believe me. When my dad found out… well… let's just say I'm glad he had already thought I was dead for eight years." Jeri says with a nod. "But now that he knows and that I'm married… and have kids, he's coming to terms with things." Jeri says with a nod. "I can understand how it can be painful. I'm not saying come screaming out of the closet like some limp-wristed queen…" He shivers. "Ew." He pauses a moment. "Sorry, that image always gets me. I'm saying learn to love YOU for who you are. Accept that you like what you like. And maybe find someone you trust that can keep it on the downlow for a while. Until you're comfortable enough. Believe me, it'll help. And I know there are folks here that like you. A lot of the students look up to you. You and I are a LOT more alike than you realize."

"What I mean to say is… I come from a very strict family. I was smaller than everyone, until my mutation kicked in. I couldn't hide mine though. Growing six inches in a week and putting on double my body mass… it kinda shows, no matter what you do. Couple that with trying to hide my attraction to guys…" He coughs slightly. "Let's just say, sixteen years later, I find out I had a son because I forced myself to do something that really wasn't that great to me." Jericho sighs. "I don't deny my son. I love him, but, it was unexpected. If anyone in this school is going to understand you, I think I have the best shot of it. Simply because we're both people that can raise the morals of others. We're both kinda… well… guys guys. The closest thing you get into non-masculine for me is that I play a violin." He laughs.

Dallas quirks up an eyebrow and tries not to laugh. "Well, being married to a guy is also a little bit of a stretch." His voice is surprisingly dry on that one. His expression sobers as he says, "But what if I /am/ that kind? You know, the 'limp-wristed queen'?" He swallows and looks down, not willing to look Jericho in the eye as he says, "I was weak with Lucas because right that minute, even when he was a demon, I wanted to just … give in. That way. And I started to. And then I saw the guard he killed…." Dallas goes a bit pale remembering it and his expression is deeply shamed, "Ten feet away from some guy who got killed because Lucas wanted to set a good scene for me and I was making out with him and willing to let him do whatever he wanted. I went a little crazy. He nuked me." He looks back up at Jericho. "That's weakness. Not losing the fight. I mean, he /nuked/ me. Literally. I had sun burns and bruises and crap for days. But giving in like that …. No. I can't /do/ that. Men don't. Heroes don't. /Leaders/ don't. I need to get better and stronger. Now."

"No, that's repressed desire begging to be let out." Jericho says with a sigh. "Leaders don't give in? Don't you remember Clinton and Monica Lewinski? Clinton was a leader. And a man. Now, admittedly, not a hero. Hank Pym. Dr. Pym. Well known to be a hero. He's also been a villain. Iron Man. Tony Stark. He went into alcoholic rehab because he was a raging alcoholic. Would you say he's any less of a hero or of a man? Look at all the good he's done for the world." Jeri pauses. "And how many Avengers used to be villains? Hawkeye. Quicksilver. Scarlet Witch. Our own Rogue. We've all given in from time to time. It makes us people. That's why you need to learn about yourself and maybe just talk to someone. I'm here for you, but I know you don't always trust teachers. What students do?" He asks, grinning softly. "And you can't force yourself to be more than you are." He thinks for a moment before adding. "Just try talking to people. They respect you. You can find a way to safely escape the mental bonds you're placing on yourself."

Dallas sighs and shakes his head once. His expression is a little remote and resolute before he summons up a faint smile and nods, "Sure. I'll do that." The mental inventory of fellow students he can trust with something like this? Zero. And he's failed to get Jericho to understand why it's something he has to get past, not used to. But still, no sense in tipping his hand. "I'll try anyway. Thanks for the advice. And this /is/ just between us, right?"

"Professional experience… it's not something you just get over. The longer you let it fester, the worse it'll be in your mind and the more damage it'll cause to your psyche." Then Jericho remembers someone and thinks. He chuckles slightly to himself before he nods. "Of course it's just between us. We can do the actual physical training stuff later. For now, you look like you could use some actual excitement in here. Wanna try to change speeds?" He asks, before looking to the central hub. "Savannah simulation: Jericho 1. Non-kidnap." He says to the computer.

Dallas gives Jericho a wary look at that chuckle and then he grins. What student doesn't love the Danger Room? And after that confession, hitting something, even something made of hard light holograms, is a good thing. He calls his shadow, letting the shell of darkness settle over him. An externalized 'game face'. And if it hides the expression of determination to still do what he needs to do, well, that's a bonus. "Bring it on."

"First, a run to get the blood pumping." Jeri grins before he reaches a hand out towards Dallas. "Here." He offers. If Dallas accepts, he'll find an interesting side effect of Jeri's touch. A little growth, and a lot of power growth. Running Speed. Strength. A few other things. He grins brightly. "That's why they call me Buff. It's kind of a silly RPG tag slapped on me because I can buff people up."

Dallas gives that hand a wary look but hey, mutants, powers, etc. He blinks as the boost settles in and then grins even more as he gets taller. "Wow." His shadow thins out a bit, more a gray miasma around him than completely obscuring his features. "Nice. Ok, I can see why you'd want to with the field team." He looks around, "Which way?" Apparently anxious to see if he's as strong as he feels.

"You take the lead. I'll follow." There are obstacles in the pathways as well. Things to be broken through, jumped over, etc. "I love my power. I get part of anyone else's and I share some of my natural gifts with others. That's why I wondered about the physical body strength enhancing the other. Without powers, I'm damn strong. The stronger I get without them, the stronger I am with them. By incremental amounts."

Dallas blinks at that, giving Jericho a closer, more thoughtful look. "Well, shadowed up, I can handle about five tons. This feels stronger." He's used to his shadow obscuring his face entirely, so his challenging, cocky grin is probably not something he thinks Jericho can see. "And try to keep up." With that, he breaks left, around the therapist and leaps over a stand of thorny acacia shrubs before seriously settling down to run, letting physical motion take the place of thought. His wild charge across the simulated savanna leaves a trail of dust and the occasional laugh as he hurdles a gorge or leaps over a fallen tree or rock.

"You should be at about ten tons without the shadow. The shadow will add about two and a half." Jericho CAN keep up. Even without his powers, he's rather talented in most sports. He calls his own shadow to cover his body, and grins as he realizes a few things about it. He takes off in a dead run, breaking 100 within seconds, since that's his normal cruising speed. He stretches the shadow out behind him. He has experience adapting to powers. The shadow shapes itself into a pair of wings which, with the wind blowing, and his running speed, lift him off the ground. He laughs loudly. "Ok, I LIKE this power."

Dallas blinks and says, "Hey!" There is a certain indignant tone there. "Is that you or me?" He isn't watching where he's going and barrels into one of the few standing trees of the savanna with enough force to blast a huge chunk out of it and cause him to stumble and skid. He watches Jericho and tries to shape his own shadow. It stirs faintly but nothing else. "Where are we going?"

"It's yours." Jeri says, landing with clawed feet. "It shifts to my thoughts. It may not have developed in you yet. Takes time and age. I tend to know what a power can do when share it." He says with a grin. "I'm the ultimate supporter." He grumbles a little at that.

Dallas pulls up a bit to look sideways at Jeri. "Hm. Nice. So Eddie gets his powers from you?" He watches where he's going this time, letting the long muscles of his legs uncoil and unkink and dodging boulders and bushes with either quick darts around or just leaping over in wild, twenty and thirty foot bounds.

"Eddie's adopted." Jeri says with a shake of his head, running alongside and keeping up nicely. "His powers are his own. His brother has some kind of plasma weaponry. His other brother is an electrical manipulator." Jeri grins, enjoying getting to share his normal workoutstyle with someone… even a student. "My son is a life-detector/biomanipulator. His is focussed on affecting people's bodies." He grins, leaping about four feet high over a boulder.

Dallas nods and then laughs as Jericho leaps over the boulder. Dallas uses it as a platform, scrambling up with one step and then bounding from the top as though the rock were a spring board. In motion, with nothing to weigh him down, his demeanor is a lot less taciturn and a lot more free, even graceful as demonstrates by neatly pivoting out of the way of a startled gazelle and completing the spin back in step with Jericho without missing a beat. "Ok, this beats the treadmill."

"Anytime you want, call me. We can run like this. That's the one thing I hated during my 8 years without powers. Not being able to run." Jeri says with a nod, letting his shadow fade away. "And I love being able to work out with someone who actually understands the true meaning of it." He admits. "So many people just think, 'Oh, enough to make me pretty is enough'. While it IS, I like to actually push myself to my limits. I sometimes have the DR simulate non-powers, so that I can build up my natural self."

Dallas nods and says, "Why no powers?" Jeri has /much/ longer legs and Dallas wouldn't admit it, of course, but he's having to run his ass off to try to keep pace. Good sentence structure gives way to retaining as much oxygen as possible.

"Did you ever hear about Genosha?" Jeri asks, just letting that sink in first. If Dallas has taken that in a history course, he won't have to explain too much, fortunately. But if he didn't, ah well. He'll explain. "Because of Genosha and the mutate system… I lost my powers for a long time."

Dallas winces and nods. He's heard of Genosha, of course. And it came up in his enhancement studies as well. "You were a, um, slave?" His expression is sympathetic at that and more than a little horrified. "Did you fight your way out or what?"

"I couldn't fight my way out. I had no powers and was kept in a prison. Fortunately, they had never mindwiped me. Just put me in my skinsuit." The one Jeri is currently wearing. "But, the X-Men freed us, and then, when I actually was able to DO something, hell yeah. I kicked the shit out of some of the magistrates that were prone to beating the defenseless. I'm still big, even without my powers." He laughs. "But, I didn't know that the guy that took my powers away… Wipeout… was killed. And nobody knew how to return them. Not until I met Storm. She had been set by the Genegineer to restore powers to slaves who had lost them. Instant. Upon first touch."

Dallas nods again. "Good." Apparently that covers being freed, kicking rumps and getting one's powers back all at once. And then, carefully, "So that means you're, um, enhanced. And a mutant. Both." Just like the research he's been doing. "Seems to be working out."

"No. I'm not enhanced." Jericho shakes his head. "I'm JUST a mutant. I had my powers taken away and then returned. There was no enhancement to my genetics. Storm simply had the ability to restore what was taken by Wipeout." He sighs. He already knows he's going to have to restrict access on Dallas's school account.

Dallas grunts at that and keeps running, sweating freely now. "Kind of hit the jackpot. Genetically." He glances sideways at up at Jericho, grinning again. "But your cornering sucks." With that he takes a sharp ninety degree turn and pivot, as smoothly as the basketball player he was before coming to Xavier's and starts running on an entirely new vector.

"That's fine. I was a football player. More force than finesse." Jeri laughs, moving along a little bit slower, but he can run fast enough to catch up quickly. Especially with a shadowed leg extension to help. "And hardly. I can only lift about 20 tons naturally. Others can do far more than I can. Rogue. Piotr."

Dallas whistles silently at '20 tons'. "And other stuff. Cool stuff. With /my/ powers." That last is still faintly accusing but also amused as Jeri catches up easily. He shrugs and says, "Well, if nothing else, I'm glad to talk with you." He looks sideways as though trying to see how Jeri will take that, absently leaping over another tangle of bushes, this bunch with a pride of sleeping lions under the tough, thorny branches.

"Good. I want my students to know that I AM someone they can talk to. Only a few do, though. Daisuke. You, now. A few others. It's just that in a school of mutants, people think anything, even just having someone to talk to, must be a sign of weakness. It's not. It's a sign of strength. You know you need to talk to someone, just to get it off your chest. Does it feel better?" Jeri asks. "Having someone that won't say a word to anyone know about some of the things that bother you? Someone who's got some experience that is more than happy to share that knowledge with you?"

Dallas thinks about it seriously before answering. "Yea. Yes, it does. I'm sick of hiding stuff. And I'm sick of being mad all the time." He shrugs, "But the only person who can fix it is me." And he already knows how he's going to do that. Or at least try. He grins again and says, "Less talk. More run. Work off that middle age gut." Which doesn't exist, of course. But the mild insult stands in the place of saying something embarrassingly personal or even affectionate. With a laugh, Dallas puts his head down and breaks into a sprint, running towards an entirely illusionary sunset and leaving a very real and spreading shadow behind him.

"I'm not middle aged! I'm only 32!" Jeri laughs, chasing after the younger mutant with a laugh. And later, he will more closely monitor the boy's access to the internet. He won't block him yet. But he's going to be keeping very strict tabs on what he's accessing.

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