2012-04-12: Coffee And Cigarettes


Donna_icon.jpg Jeremy_icon.jpg

Summary: Donna gives Jeremy words of advice

Date: April 12, 2012

Log Title: Coffee And Cigarettes

Rating: PG-13

NYC - Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is easily identified by the white Washington Square Arch. This park in Greenwich Village has a relaxing fountain in the middle, and benches all around for people to sit and people watch, read, or draw. It is common to find the occasional political protest in this park, as Greenwich Village is one of the more Liberal Area's of New York City.

Barnes just feels stuffy knowing that Kai is around and he just doesn't want to chance running into him so he's been spending as much time as possible out in the city. Today he's found his way to Washington Square Park and he sits in the grass with his school books in front of him. He's anxious to finish his senior year so he's working on his homework that's due tomorrow. Like usual he's covered up from the neck down in clothes that aren't exactly spring attire.

"I'm shocked you aren't burning up," comes Donna's voice from a respectable distance off. Dressed in much the same attire as on their last meeting, the woman carries a pair of reuseable coffee cups, her messenger bag heavy on her hip. "I wasn't sure how you took your tea, so I just brought a bit of sugar along with."

Jeremy jumps as he hears Donna's voice and then looks up at her like he's debating if he should run or not, but it seems he resigns himself to staying put. "I don't have a choice." He says tugging on the gloves that are almost always on his hands. "Why did you get me tea?" He asks not taking the cup since he doesn't trust what's in it, or the person offering it.

Donna's eyebrow twitches upward at the question, as though the mere fact that it needs to be asked is something of a surprise. "…I *did* say, the last time we spoke, that if you brought the cigarettes, I'd bring the tea, yes?"

Jeremy looks down at the ground, his long hair hanging in his face. "I didn't think you actually meant that, or that I'd ever see you again." He mutters. "I have plenty of cigarettes if you want one, I just bought a pack." He says moving to fish the box out of one of his pockets.

Donna nods her head once, and moves to the opposite side of the bench, setting Jeremy's tea down in the space between them. "As I said; I've sugar if you don't take it straight, but I couldn't very well bring the milk with me. But, mind, lad… I *never* say what I don't precisely mean, and I always keep to my promises. I've not seen the point in acting otherwise, to be honest." From a side pocket in the bag, a small sandwich baggie with sugar cubes in, is drawn out and placed next to the tea. "It's a fair trade anyhow."

Jeremy cautiously takes the cup of tea and smells it before reaching for a sugar cube and dropping it in. One thing she did get right, he does like a cup of tea. He holds it tight in his two hands and takes a tentative sip, like he's expecting an off tastes. "Thank you." He says as he reaches for the pack of cigarettes and offers one to Donna, it's still a fairly new pack but three have already been taken out. "I just find it easiest not to talk much."

The cigarette taken with a nod of thanks, the end cupped and lit in the same fashion as before; lighter small enough to disappear entirely in her hands, and apparently electric, according to the snap-click sound it makes. The woman takes a slow draw, tipping her head up and loosing a writhing cloud of smoke toward the fountain. "Wiser, often, certainly. But then, a good listener is rare enough, *especially* in this city; I've never understood how you New Yorkers can babble away at each other and *understand* one word in seven."

Jeremy shrugs a shoulder. "I've only been here about four or five years. That I've been living in the city." He says quietly as he takes a cigarette for himself and lights it up. "I don't know if I'm a New Yorker. I don't know what I am." He confesses as he struggles with lighting his cigarette because of his gloves. "From what I've seen most of the babbling is complaining."

Donna snorts quietly, offering her lit cigarette as an alternative to the lighter. "You're young, yet. What you are, like as not, will steal up on you while you're looking the other way. But you didn't come here to listen to be blather on… homework, is it?"

Jeremy looks at the offered lit cigarette and it takes a moment before he accepts it and then hands it back to her. Taking a long inhale, he's quiet for a bit before he answers. "Calculus. It's easier to work on it out here then…back there." Trying to be as vague as possible. "What you are…" He echos with a frown looking down at his books. "What I am sucks."

While Donna keeps her silence at this answer, the raised eyebrow and the faintly curious look do as much to say 'Go on…' as words could have done. However, no other prompting is given; his choice to say more, it seems.

Jeremy just focuses on his cigarette and tea, alternating sips and drags. In a quiet voice that is almost too faint to hear, he finally speaks. "If I told you what I can do, you'd probably shy away from me. That girl who you saw that night we met…Tabitha, I know her from school."

By way of reply, Donna takes a drag from her own cigarette, releasing a pair of smoke rings, one after another… and then a thin line of smoke that pierces the center of both, precisely. "That you knew Tabitha, I'd assumed, the way she spoke to you. …Though like as not, you'd be surprised by *my* reactions, mh?"

Jeremy looks up briefly to give Donna a confused look. "That you're willing to talk to me is surprise enough." He mutters. He subconsciously adjusts the scarf around his neck to make sure that he's covered up.

A thin black eyebrow jumps upward, pale lips pulling up on the visible side of her mouth. "Then, why assume I'll take what you can do badly, mh? I'll guess then, that you're a mutant of some sort?"

Jeremy closes his eyes and then nods before swallowing. In a shaking voice, barely above a whisper, filled with fear, he tells Donna. "I can see the past of anything I touch. Anything." He pulls his knees up and rests his chin on them. "If I were to touch you, I'd see the last twenty five years of your life…everything, and it'd never leave my head."

"…Then I'd not touch me, were I you," Donna says softly. But beyond that, she makes no move to pull away, though she *does* fail as hiding her wince at the impact of his powers. "…However…" The cigarette is put in her mouth, hand turned up as though holding an invisible apple. "You'll find I'm quite well-versed in the strangeness that man can do." As she speaks, little threads of electricity jump and spark between her fingertips, accompanied by the sharp smell of ozone.

Jeremy jumps as he sees the electricity. "Having the power to do something like that would be so much easier than this." He says looking at one of his hands. "I'm just well-versed in how much man is capable of, and most of them are capable of a lot more bad than good." He says trying to curl in on himself as much as possible. "I'm not only a mutant but my power is an invasion of privacy."

The lightning goes away, head tilted to one side. "That's as it may be," she muses, sipping at her tea, "but on the bright side? You've more respect for the power you hold than most, and that speaks only good of you, Jeremy."

"I don't want that stuff in my head. Some of the things I've seen…" Jeremy's voice chokes up a bit as he shakes his head. "And it doesn't matter what I do, people just see me as….it doesn't matter anyway." He says taking a long drag off of his cigarette to try to keep him from breaking down.

"Believe it or not, lad," Donna says, quietly, "I've some idea what you mean. But I'll ask you this; regardless of what 'people' see you as — And I've no few ideas what that might be — I'll ask you a question you've likely not been asked, often. What is it, Jeremy, that *you* want to be?" Tea is drunk, cigarette is dragged on, and the silence hangs in the air between them, heavy and expectant.

"I….I don't know." Jeremy says. "I just know I don't want to be a failure anymore." He finishes up his cigarette and then clings to his cup of tea, uncurling from his ball a bit. "I…never had that option even before things went nuts, choosing what I want to be."

"You have the choice *now,* lad," Donna says softly, looking at Jeremy over the rim of her cup. "A painful blessing it may be, but a blessing all the same. And it's one worth standing up and fighting for."

Jeremy drinks the tea without saying anything for a while. "A part of me just wants to disappear another part just wants to go back to the drugs so all this is just faded but…." He shakes his head. "Actually, no, I don't want to go back to that. I want to not feel like this everyday."

"There, lad," Donna says with a sigh, "I'm afraid I can't help you, much. Seems to me, what you're missing is a purpose, Jeremy… a line you can draw in the sand, stand over, and say 'No.'" Lifting a shoulder, she pulls in another drag of smoke, waving her hand about in the air as though to gather her words together in front of her. "You'll find it… rather exciting, the ability to refuse what people ask of you, I think."

Jeremy looks over at Donna and shakes his head. "That's assuming that people ask things of me." He says with the faintest of shrugs. "I wouldn't even know where to begin to draw that line, I can't really tell my powers 'no', they just are always there. I can't tell what I've seen, no, since it's always there in my head. I don't even know what to do with myself, I'm just…" He shakes his head not wanting to say the word pathetic. "I want it all to go away."

"I'm sorry," Donna repeats, peering down at her cup. "I've little idea how to help. Yes, I assume people ask things of you. You've power, lad, and it's been my experience that power — and especially the power of information, which you have in spades — can go a long way to making you valuable. So, no… you can't tell your power no, and you can't tell your memories no… but you *can* tell those who may want the use of either no. And if you've not been asked… then there's a small treasure there." Sitting back on the bench, she purses her lips, thinking deeply. "As for going away… again, I'm afraid I'm little use there."

Jeremy looks at Donna and shakes his head. "At least you're not running away." He says thinking it's a good thing. "I think the school is trying to make me useful in that but…with not being able to control it, they're as clueless as I am. I don't want people to look at me for what some stupid thing my genes do, but that's all anyone looks at. People, if they see me at all, either see a failure or a druggie or just an information gather when they see me." It's not like he does much to change that though.

"And what would you rather they see you as, then?" The question is short, to the point, and while not said with impatience or rancor, there's an evident hint of the schoolteacher's tartness in it.

Jeremy moves both palms of his gloved hands to his eyes to stop himself from tearing up along with taking a few breaths. "Just…as a someone. Not as a nothing. That…that I do have feelings and just because…because I don't even like myself I just want…someone to understand that it isn't easy that…I want them to see me as a person."

Donna's head tilts to one side. "And once you have that… What comes next, lad?" This question, not quite so tart, but carrying with it a sense that the answer is important.

The answer is so quiet that Donna might have to strain to hear Jeremy's answer. "The maybe…I won't see myself that way too."

Donna purses her lips, silent for a moment. "Here's a difficult one, then… How will you know when someone sees you that way?" Her smoke is dragged on, the filter stub earning a wrinkle of the nose, and the cherry is ground out on the iron arm of the bench.

"They won't try to kill me or use me for my powers." Jeremy spits out bitterly. "Maybe for once, someone will ask how -I- am doing, how I am handling this crap instead of letting some killer back into my life without asking how I'd feel about it. But it's the killer that's more important, the one that can get stuff done rather than the ex-heroin addict who can't touch anything without having it's past logded into his head, noone wants someone who can't even stand to look at themself in the mirror around. My own family would rather have me dead then alive."

"Oh, well, cheers," Donna says, a faint touch of humor softening the sarcasm in her voice. "But here I thought you'd told me you've not had things asked of you, mh?"

Jeremy doesn't say anything but just starts to pack up the books that have been lying out in front of him in the grass, putting them neatly in the backpack. "You can keep the rest of the cigarettes." He says to her as he moves to shift the backpack over his shoulders. "Thank you for the tea."

"Jeremy." How one word can be infused with equal parts command and entreaty is unclear, but it's a word that gets into the base of the spine and calls for a halt. "Please. Sit down. At least allow me to explain myself. You might find it… enlightening."

Jeremy stops but doesn't turn right away, wiping away the hints of tears that want to escape. When he's sure that he doesn't look like he wants to just break down he turns around slowly and takes a few steps back, but not sitting down. He not sure what to say so he just allows silence to take over him.

"Jeremy," Donna says slowly, "you've spent the last while talking with someone with no designs on your powers, no concern for your past, and no opinion on the choices you've made. Which is why I asked, how will you know? Because it's not entirely likely you *will,* given your state of mind. And to be honest? Nobody with one good eye and half a working heart *needs* to know how you're handling all this; the answer's writ in thirty-foot tall letters of fire, you're *not.* Or if you are, poorly. So the question is less useful than the one I ask; *What do you want?* Because if you want to get started fixing the mess your life has made of you, *that* is the best place to start."

Jeremy doesn't admit it to Donna but he's felt like every question she's had has been judging him, criticizing what he is. "I don't know." Jeremy whispers as he kneels down to the ground and looks defeated. "I don't know. What I've wanted never mattered much…the only thing I can say is, I want to be loved by someone like a parent. It's stupid." He looks away wiping his face hurriedly with hands.

"No," Donna says, shaking her head, "it's not stupid at all. And you're wrong, lad… There's nothing that matters more, than what you want. It's not selfish to hold to that, either; the only time what you want becomes wrong, is when it costs someone undeservingly. And by the sound of it, it's long past time you started taking a bit of ground back from those who've given you their roof. Whoever they are, whatever they want from you, they're going to have to start giving a bit. It is, after all, only fair."

"I don't know how." Jeremy admits, unless you count him just hiding away from the world when he can. "I just run away from things, that's what I do, I run." He reaches for the pack of cigarettes with a visibly shaking hand and pulls one out before going through his usual strugles of trying to get his lighter working with gloves on.

Rather than offer her own cigarette, which is smoked up and stubbed out, Donna simply extends a hand, a dancing arc of electricity crackling between two closely-spaced fingertips. "Running is a simple thing to do," she says softly. "It's easy, and it's natural… After all, we've hardwired our brains to choose between running or fighting, when fear takes over, haven't we?"

Jeremy jumps at the electricity and tries hard not to electrocute himself as he lights it. "It's easy cause I used to do track, I run well." He says taking a long inhale to try to calm himself just a little. "I feel like I'm afraid of everything, even you scare me." He admits to Donna.

Donna snorts in faint amusement, shaking her head. "Well, then… at least I know I've not worked hard in vain. Jeremy, I've spent the best part of ten years learning how to be scary, and I'll quite readily admit I'm not a nice person in the slightest. That doesn't mean, however, that I'm not *fair,* nor does it mean I'm evil. It just means that if I want to *be* nice, it comes hard for me. Just like if you want to stop running, it'll be hard for you. Running is easy, and at least at the start painless. But it *is* lonely, isn't it lad?"

Jeremy shrugs a shoulder at the last question before resigning himself to a nod. "It's just better to be lonely and run, than trust the wrong person." Though it's obvious it's more the fear talking than his wants.

"Better?" Donna asks softly, with the air of one who knows the answer, "or safer? The two don't mean the same thing, child… And you don't have the look of someone happy with his lot."

"How can anyone be happy with this lot?!" Jeremy says sounding exasperated. "And I'd rather feel safter. I've had my roommate try to kill me, then use me for my powers, and my own parents were plotting to kill me because of what I am! I don't want..or didn't want…" He can't quite finish that sentence since he's not quite sure what he wants. "At the time, I didn't want to die."

Donna raises a finger. "Listen to what you just said, lad. 'I'd rather feel safer.' 'How can anyone be happy with this?' Think for a moment, and tell me what that tells you."

Jeremy does take a moment and thinks for a bit. "That no matter what I do I'm screwed." It's the only logical conclusion he can come up with. "That I just have to either deal with feeling like this forever or…just disappear."

"Or," Donna says, gently and patiently, "that perhaps this plan isn't so viable as you think. That perhaps fighting for *your* place in the world might just lead to something better, mh?"

"When I ran away from home, that was me fighting to stay in this world, when I fought back Kai from trying to kill me, that was me fighting to stay in this world….I don't know if it's lead to anything better." Jeremy is just having a hard time looking on the bright side of anything. "If I continue exisiting in this world…I don't believe it'll lead to something better. It might, but I don't count on it."

Donna tilts her head, looking at Jeremy for a long moment. "If you'll allow me, I'd like to tell you something about living. It is, of course, your choice… And believe it or not, you *can* say no."

Jeremy looks up at Donna and doesn't say yes or no, just remains quite, but it is obvious she has his attention. The cigarette is still being smoked as he waits for what she has to say next.

"Life *hurts,* child," Donna says softly. "Pain tells you when something is damaged. Broken. *Wrong.* Pain leaves scars on body, mind, and soul. The only time it doesn't hurt at all is when you're dead… But even death has its own mysteries I'm not even equipped to consider. What I *can* tell you is that the *point* of life is to make something out of the hurt. Let it teach you what's broken. Let it teach you how to fix it. I've hurt a *great deal,* since I was your age, Jeremy… but I don't mind. I have a purpose, now, that gives my life meaning. And I have an apprentice I can teach, without forcing her to learn how I learned. And *that,* child, is worthwhile."

Jeremy can relate to the first half of what she says extremely well but the second half, not so much. "Sometimes…somethings, aren't so easy to be fixed. There aren't instructions, because you got lucky doesn't mean I will." He says standing up and putting his cigarette out on the ground. "I need to go, it's getting late and curfew and all that. Thank you for listening." He says leaving her with the remaining cigarettes in the pack.

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